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Hello from Vegas! Welcome to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Spring 2010! Actually, it hasn’t started yet, but I’m here, in my new home-away-from-home, until June 20, 2010. It’s a great room, awesome view. Odd city, this one. Huge buildings of glass and steel dripping with neon against a backdrop of outrageous mountain ranges and natural beauty. Yoga training in the middle of a town built on gambling and a wild and not necessarily healthy night life. The stark contrasts are endless here.
For those of you visiting our site for the first time, I am embarking on a new adventure, through Bikram’s 9-week Teacher Training course, in order to become a Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor. I cannot promise anything in terms of the regularity of this blog, as I’ve been told from all previous attendees that there will be no time whatsoever. But I thought I’d give it a try and see how we do.
After a tearful good bye (I’m talking about Richard, of course…), it was an easy trip here, all the flights were on time (as was I, always a good thing). Leaving home and family and the love of my life for 9 weeks is something I still can’t wrap my head around, and I’m sure that will become very real very quickly. It’s all a bit surreal right now, however, and still feels as though I’m on a very weird vacation in a place not of my choosing. Our first event is tomorrow (Sunday) evening, from 5:00pm to 11:30pm in the jaw-droppingly massive conference room (we went and peeked in tonight). There are usually about 300 students from about 25-30 countries who attend, so I assume it will be similar this time around. I’ve been spending time with a new and wonderful friend from New Zealand, who literally travelled around the world to get here. We went to, yes, I’m afraid it’s true, Walmart today, to stock up on some necessities, making our best guess as to what we’ll need to make survival more likely to occur. We also found a great health food store and dined at a very good little Thai place, both of which were way off The Strip. It seems everything off The Strip is a lot more real, a lot less expensive and and a little less glammy around the edges.
So, what the heck am I doing here? I remember watching other people leave for training over the last several years, wondering, sometimes a little judgmentally, how anyone could leave their family for 9 weeks. Now I know – because it is for the whole family that I do this, as well as our community. Ours is a family business and to be a true and integral part of it, as well as to help it thrive, how can I not learn all that can be learned about it, and become the most knowledgeable I possibly can? I see what our teachers have learned, the depth of their knowledge and the deep experience they have. This yoga is amazing, its healing properties are endless, and I want to be able to bring it to our community along with the rest of our teachers. This yoga has helped to heal me, personally, and I want to be able to help others to do the same.
So – I am nervous, excited and determined. Nervous about being able to physically keep up with the rigorous training. Excited to have this incredible opportunity at this, the half-century point in my life (did I just say that? Holy crap). And I am absolutely determined to finish, and to leave here a Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor. I will try to bring some of the details of this journey to this blog, as I so appreciate all of your encouragement and support. We have a fabulous, very special community at our studio, and I am so proud to be a part of it. Until then:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
04-18-2010 Day 2
It’s real now, we’ve been orientated! First lesson as well – I need to have another source of information besides the hotel front desk. I almost missed the orientation as the hotel had the first event at 5:00 at one end of this massive hotel, when it really began at 3:00 at the other end, in the tent outside. Luckily, I was very early (for the 5:00) and they started late so I didn’t miss too much! We met all of the staff and the senior teachers here, all of whom are very kind, helpful and encouraging, and from all over the planet. We also got the list of Do’s and Don’t’s and survival and hydration tips from the experts.
We then had a Reception Dinner which was huge and grand and very good. I met a group of very nice ladies from the Dallas area, one of whom is my age (!). There are a number of us over-20-somethings (ah hem) here, which is very encouraging. We also sat with some gals from Wisconsin, California, and a gentleman from Brussels. There are 355 of us here, which everyone thinks is the largest class in recent memory.
I was able to get a really good night’s sleep last night and then spent the day learning the dialogue. We all have to memorize the whole 90-minute dialogue in order to graduate, which is one of my (and, it seems, pretty universal) biggest fears. I felt better as I did have some success, and listened to so many here who literally decided to come to training just last week and have no dialogue memorized at all. Tips from Richard are so very helpful, too, and I’ve been sharing them liberally with others. “Think of the body, not the words,” and “Do the postures as you say them,” both ring through my head as I practice. The best thing he said, of course, is “You can do anything.” How can you help but succeed with someone like that in your corner? Whenever I get scared, I just keep replaying that in my head.
Tomorrow we start with Bikram’s Orientation at 10:30. Our first Bikram class will be at 5:00 tomorrow evening, with Bikram himself teaching. As I’ve not practiced since Thursday, I’m hoping my body remembers the postures well enough to get through. I do miss the practice and the heat so am actually really looking forward to it!
Oh, the greatest thing I learned today? All of the towers in this monstrously huge place are connected!! One of the gals I met showed me the trick to miss the lines at the elevators, which are about 15-20 minutes long when we all get out of an event at the same time. You take the elevator with the shortest line and walk down the long hallway to find your room instead. It’s the little things that make all the difference!
Time for bed and some mental prep for the real start to this adventure. Until next time!
04-19-2010 Day 3
The first real day was great! This morning, Rajashree gave us the lowdown on health issues (expect gastrointestinal issues, stress, acne, drying skin!), then Bikram’s lecture was insightful and, of course, highly entertaining. We were then let out for a few hours, which I used to study again, before we had to sign in at 4:30 for the 5:00 Bikram Yoga class.
The ‘room’ is a massive tent with a raised, carpeted floor. The heat was good, and humidity level was good as well. Mats were everywhere as were their owners, and we had fun chatting while waiting for class to begin. I met two people from Dublin, Ireland today, and lots of folks from Canada, all of whom were very entertaining to take class with. With Bikram as the teacher, class flew by and I felt very strong after my several days off. He is very funny, and his comments will make you laugh out loud, even in the middle of a hard posture. There is so much energy in the room with so many people so close together! People of all shapes and sizes and ages and colors, it’s truly an awesome experience.
It seems as though they are moving a bit slowly at the beginning here, in order to give some of the stranded European students a chance to get here and not be too far behind. We probably won’t see them until the end of this week, it looks like, depending on how soon the airlines can get back to normal. They let us out for the evening right after class, so no lectures tonight!
My New Zealand friend and I found the buffet restaurant – WHAT a FIND! Affordable, tons of food, most of it very good and lots and lots of choices. I figured, what better time to bulk up? Still, I couldn’t get anywhere close to packing in everything I wanted to try, but we have lots of time left here to make my way around the stations! We met up with four other Bikramites on the way there and had a great time comparing notes on the day over dinner. We had another New Zealander, two Californians and a New Yorker at the table, wonderful conversation and company.
Tomorrow starts in earnest, with class at 8:30am, the posture clinics, then class at 5:00pm, then lectures and, we’ve been told, a possible movie afterward. I’m psyching up for the long haul!
04-20-2010- Day 4
First day of doubles today! Tough class in the morning with Jim teaching. I was tight due to the hour of the day and a bit sore from the night before’s class. Pulled a muscle in my left shoulder/neck in I don’t know which posture, but I kept moving it around during the lectures and the evening class had it a little looser.
Posture Clinic started this afternoon, where each of the 358 students has to get up in front of everyone and recite Half Moon Pose to Bikram. There are four students on stage who do the posture as it’s given, so you do have bodies to look at to jog your memory. While I do know the posture very well, I figured I’d sit out the first day and listen to Bikram’s feedback to see what he was going to be looking for. Very glad I did, as it definitely gave me some tips on how to present when I do get up there. The first session ended at 4:00 so we could go prepare for Bikram Class #2 at 5:00. We then had about an hour and a half to shower and eat and then return for 8:30 sign-in for the evening posture clinic. We went to our new favorite place (The Buffet – God Bless Lots of Food) where there was amazingly no line. We asked a nice gentleman from Hermosa Beach, CA to join us as he was there solo, so once again, company was outstanding. Then, the mad dash back for the evening sign-in.
It is something to watch so many different people from so many different countries each get up and do the same dialogue. So many accents, styles and methods of presentation. As usual, Bikram’s commentary is extremely entertaining, but it also contains lots of wisdom on how to effectively present to a class and how to keep students wanting to come back. The whole room pulls for each candidate, with loud, heartfelt applause and lots of help when folks get stuck. There is an odd musical-chairs-like method of getting yourself in the rotation, so I plan on getting there early to tomorrow’s lecture so I can end the agony and get it over with. Adrienne (my New Zealand friend ) wanted to go tonight but it ended too soon. At least she’s got a number for tomorrow, so will definitely get to go up.
We received a HUGE gift this evening – we were warned that the lecture and/or Bollywood movie would go to at least 4 in the morning, so we all laid in, ready for a very long evening and no sleep. Then, at a little after midnight, Bikram ended the Posture Clinic and asked if we’d rather have a movie or a lecture. The crowd was pretty specific about wanting a movie, after which he said we were in luck, the projector wasn’t set up so he let us go! I was so surprised and just so incredibly happy to be able to go back to the room, have some tea and write a bit, as I had steeled myself for being very, very tired.
Well – must get some sleep and prepare for the day. Hopefully, I will have the wonderful opportunity (and the intestinal fortitude) to get up on stage and get it done by tomorrow afternoon! He’s only looking for perfect dialogue and lots of enthusiasm, but not too much, and a strong voice but well modulated, and great energy and a voice that projects and, and, and. Oh boy.
Thanks to Norman of eNorm (our web guy extraordinaire and a Bikram Studio owner in NH) for fixing the blog entry order!
04-21-2010 Day 5
Longer day today, although still fun and interesting. No heat in class this morning, unfortunately. Rajashree taught it and I just took it very easy as no heat + morning class = pulled muscles. It is very cold out here right now (aren’t we supposed to be in a desert???) and they are having a bit of trouble getting the heating system in the ‘room’ to compensate. Everyone planned on it being 80+ degrees outside, so the 55-60 we’re getting, plus the high winds, has everyone regrouping. Rajashree’s class was very intersting as she has a different perspective and brings lots of facts to her teaching about the postures and what they do for us internally.
I finally got in one of the magic musical chairs and got a number to present Half Moon. I was in then bumped out and walking away when a nice gentleman pulled me back into one of the open chairs. He turned out to be our Kulae rep! What a small world. We got to commiserate for a bit after comparing notes on our experiences, and practiced together for a bit as well. We didn’t have time to present during the afternoon session, however, and we were all sent off to prepare for the 5:00 class. Bikram taught it so it was a fun class. He was harder on us today but his running commentary is so entertaining I really enjoy his classes. The heat was a little better in the afternoon.
The line at the buffet was too long (HUGE bummer, as that is definitely my favorite part of my day) so we got a quick salad and went back to sign in for the 9:00pm lecture session. I actually got dressed up (a relative term, as we usually go to the evening sessions in sweats and PJ’s) as I thought I would be presenting. Twenty-seven presentations in the mirror and I was ready!! Alas, no luck, wasted blow-dry and wasted outfit. Bikram gave an hour lecture on yoga history and theory which was extremely interesting. He then put in our first Bollywood movie at about 10:30 pm. If you’ve not seen one, I highly recommend watching at least one – oh, my God, my jaw still hurts from laughing. Every cliche, every strained dialogue, every twist of plot and the biggest (and most constant and unexplained) musical numbers you could ever imagine, all packed into a 3.5 hour flick. For those of us who stayed awake, it was a belly laugh a minute. Part of the story was filmed in New Zealand, so Adrienne got to tell me where everything was and what it was like there. GORGEOUS, it has hit one of the top spots on my must-visit list. When it was over he asked for a vote to either put another movie in or go home. People actually tried to vote for another but they were quickly shouted down by those of us with any sense whatsoever.
Class again tomorrow morning and then, hopefully, my big day on stage! Probably a good thing it was delayed as I’m beating back a sore throat and I’ll have more time to kill it completely. Other than that, I feel strong, although I am missing everyone and home terribly. Have to stay busy to keep that at bay. Take care and hope to write again tomorrow!
04-22-2010 Day 6
Victory Day! I finally got my scaredy-cat butt up on the stage and delivered Half Moon Pose to Bikram and 358 teacher Trainees!
We progressed out of the Magic Musical Chairs to the line up on the wall on the way toward the stage, the next 20 victims all in a row. I think what motivates most of us to do it is that we are so very sick of hearing ourselves saying the dialogue, it’s a lesser evil to just stand up and get it over with. You hear people walking around saying it, with a line up of trainees delivering it, in the rooms as you pass by, it’s everywhere. As I stood in the line and got closer and closer as each one in front of me stood and delivered, I began to hear Richard in one of his “Breathe” classes. So I just started to breathe – 6 seconds in, 6 seconds out. I said the words a few times more, but then just resigned myself to whatever was going to happen – and it was 50/50 whether I got up and just stood there like an idiot, or if the words would come to me and I would get through it alive. I’ve spoken in public pretty often but never without the speech written out. I hoped that none of the crazy-good rock stars (like Adrienne, who just nailed it and who Bikram said was the second best of all!) would immediately precede me, and I lucked out.
So it was my turn. I took off my shoes (mandatory) and walked up the four metal stairs to my fate. The jubilant exiting gal handed me the microphone and it was show time. Four people stood behind me against a white screen, all totally relieved and breathing deeply for the first time in days because they had just had their turn and were done. Bikram sat directly in front of the stage in his easy chair, sizing up each of us as we walked onto the stage. The rows and rows of teacher trainees sat behind him, a sea of faces all trained on the next victim. I introduced myself, said where I lived and where I practiced, as per the protocol. The crowd clapped and cheered, as we do for every candidate. Bikram nodded, said “Begin, please” and I took a deep breath, turned to face the four demonstrators and began. The first few lines came out easy. So did the next few. The demonstrators dutifully performed each step as I said it. I began to realize that I actually knew the posture and that I could really do this. I relaxed a little and was able to put in some enthusiasm and inflection. The words kept coming, almost without my thinking about them, exactly as I had recited them a zillion and a half times. Impossibly, I began to enjoy it as I realized I was not, in fact, going to fail miserably and be filleted by the sharp-witted Bikram. I finished! I was done! The applause and woo-hoos washed over me from the crowd and I turned to face The Judge. He said, “Wow!”. I couldn’t have gotten the stupid grin off my face if I tried. He said I was sweet and my students would like me. He said I did ‘sugar-coat’ the dialogue a bit and would need to work on being a b$^*h sometimes as that was occasionally necessary to motivate people. I nodded, still smiling. He said, “Great job”. More applause as I turned, stunned, to take my place in the line up for the next victim. I was speechless (good timing on that one at least!). I then got to perform the right side of Half Moon four more times before I could get off the stage. And then – relief. Deep, deep relief. The first and hardest hurdle was complete.
The rest of the day: morning class was with the high-energy studio owner in las Vegas. Bikram started the 5:00 class a bit late so the good news was that we were given another half-hour for dinner break and prep for the evening lecture. Almost as exciting as finishing Half Moon was the news that Bikramites would get our own line at the buffet! As dinner is definitely my favorite part of the day, this is huge and wonderful news in my narrowly focused and temporary world. The bad news was that the evening lecture started at 9:30, meaning we knew were in for it tonight. And we were. Bikram lectured until close to 11:00pm, then put in another Bollywood extravaganza – a FOUR and ONE HALF HOUR extravaganza. After the movie, he talked to us about the moral mesages in the movie, among various other things. At 3:30am, I can’t say I retained a whole lot. Lessons about the evening’s lecture that I will remember:
a) You cannot sleep in these chairs without hurting yourself;
b) You cannot possibly pack enough snacks and drinks to last you for 6 and 1/2 hours of trying to stay awake;
c) Just when you think a Bollywood movie is about to end, the plot will take an unexpected twist that will take at least an hour to resolve.
Back to the hotel home at 4:15am. Brush teeth, set alarm to loud buzz saw, savasana.
04-23-2010 Day 7
7:15 am came like it did when I was in college – about a day too early. Bleary-eyed, I got ready and left for the 8:00 sign-in and 8:30 am class. I’ve gotten extremely efficient about getting up, performing the barest minimum of absolutely necessary tasks and getting myself to the tent, which takes about 10-15 minutes to hike depending on elevator availability. You always meet many of the group on the way, and we usually strike up conversations about home, commiserating, sharing bits of information gleaned from the staff, or good tips on food and other hotel life.
Class with this little sleep at this hour of the morning was a decidedly new experience for me. But I have come to a place here where I don’t try to anticipate anything. If my monkey mind starts, I say, “I am just going to a yoga class.” Rajashree taught this morning, and the room, although warmer, is still humidity-challenged so I am not really sweating much. Not a bad thing right now, especially today. I’m struggling with all of my old tough postures – basically anything that works both lower back and hamstrings. My body is just tight and a bit sore from all of the doubles, so I’m not able to get as far into the postures as I could back home. I’m also continually pulling some muscle or another in my back and shoulders. I called the Coach at lunch and he told me to stop trying to muscle into the postures, to just relax and breathe into them. Good life advice all around, if you think about it. I did try that at the 5:00 class and it worked a lot better.
There are several teenagers here, with whom I am so impressed. There is also the 17-year-old World Champ from Baltimore. He is a very nice kid and MAN you should see him bend, holy crap. Rajashree had him stand up today in the morning class so we could all acknowlege him. She then asked why he wasn’t a scholarship recipient and he didn’t know. She said she would look into it. You do not mess with Rajashree. During the afternoon posture clinic, after this kid delivered his dialogue (better than a whole lot of the adults!), Bikram gave his feedback and then we saw Rajashree come up to him. There was silence in the room as they whispered. Bikram then asked why no one told him we had the World Champ here and asked the kid to do one of the advanced postures, which he did. The poise of this 17-year-old is incredible. Bikram then said that they were granting him the scholarship and refunding his money. There are some very happy parents in Baltimore tonight.
Kathleen from our studio, Jen from Glastonbury and Jackie from Northampton and sometimes our place all got through their dialogue this afternoon so I’m sure they are also breathing easier right now! Kathleen gave us a nice plug, which I sure appreciated.
We were set free after the 5:00 class so quick shower and a nice, leisurely dinner at our favorite buffet. Early to bed as my eyes and brain are rapidly closing down. Sign in at 7:30am and class at 8:00 but that’s it for the day tomorrow!
04-24-2010 Day 8
Saturday! Early class at 8:00 this morning was tough, as was the teacher, Ulysses from Mexico. It was fun, however, to hear the class in Spanish – he did the first set in English and the second in Spanish so you could hear it both ways. The truly beautiful part was that at 9:30 am, class was over and we were free! I went back to the room, had some breakfast and tea and iced my shoulder for a while which really helped (Pranayama almost had me in tears). As they were running a Bikram shuttle to Trader Joe’s, Albertsons and the laundromat, Adrienne and I decided to go food shopping to stock up for the week. It was a mad crush of yogis in the van and we filled up Trader Joes. The local clientele seemed to enjoy watching the unending stream of mostly young, ebullient and tatooed trainees flowing through the aisles. The wait was pretty extensive to get home so we’ll probably rethink that shopping strategy next week.
We went to check out the pool and spa area later and it’s beautiful. Lounging on the chairs in the sun by the pool, surrounded by palm trees, was almost worrisome in its serenity – we knew this peaceful, unfettered time would be very short-lived so we did our best to act like we were on vacation. We had great plans afterward to visit the Miracle Mile Mall (“1.5 miles of 150 shops, restaurants and entertainment!”) but we both got back to our rooms and lost whatever steam we had earlier. We couldn’t even muster enough to go outside the hotel for dinner so…yes, you guessed it. The Buffet! Coming back to through the casino and the lobby on a Saturday night was highly entertaining. There are people of all ages, walks of life and fashion styles in those casinos, WOW.
Tomorrow I shall sleep until I wake up! Such a wonderful luxury. Then, it’s back to the dialogue memorizing. No resting on laurels around these parts – Backbending and Hands to Feet here I come!
04-25-2010 Day 9
We could have been anywhere in the USA, the same mall stores were all there. What’s fun is sharing American culture with Adrienne and hearing all about New Zealand and Maori culture from her. She’s got three boys and we compare teenager stories for additional entertainment.
Found the shoes and we also both bought ourselves a wrap-around massager at Brookstone. It is fabulous, It is fixing my shoulder as I write, and I highly recommend it for anyone with a sore anything (appropriately called an “i-need”).
We needed a good old Walgreen’s and one of the mall people told us it was pretty close by, on the Strip. The Strip is a trip, for sure. Lights, noises, big huge screens flashing everything you can imagine, music blaring, people everywhere, total sensory overload. I was thinking last night that I’m kind of glad this is being held in Las Vegas as I feel no burning desire to be outside. If I were in Hawaii like Richard was, I would feel a constant pressure to be going, doing, seeing, experiencing. It’s good not to have that distraction or I might never learn this stinking dialogue.
After we finished our Walgreen’s odyssey, I saw several of the hotels near ours. We decide to hoof it back and see how long it would take. Not at all long, it turns out. We also realized that ‘walkable’ to us is a on a completely foreign scale to the people we keep asking. We were only offered crack once so the ‘neighborhood’ isn’t all that bad, at least on a Sunday afternoon.
Once back, I got to talk to most of my family on speaker phone as they had dinner, which was lovely to be a part of. All seem to be doing just fine, and thank you so much to you dinner-providers! I hear everything was eaten before it hit the countertop and I am eternally grateful.
It is my last night in my 40’s. Who would have thought, even last year, that I would be spending my Half-Century mark doing Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Boot Camp? It all goes to show that we are amazing creatures, we Women of A Certain Age, and we are capable of anything we put our minds to. Even moreso if you have an ‘i-need’ as your new best friend.
The Big Five Oh – Day 10
It’s the big day, the half-century point. As we all really know, however, 50 is the new 30!
The day began nicely with Adrienne singing Happy Birthday in the hall and handing me a funny card and an orange squishy head that lights up. Kind of looks like us after class. At the morning class, they always announce the day’s birthdays, so another gal and I were outed. They also made sure everyone knew it was my 50th, so I got a lot of sympathy applause! then, 360 people sang Happy Birthday, which was quite awesome. It was also very nice to have so many people come up to me after the class and say they couldn’t believe I was 50. Some of the younger folks were clearly surprised, which is pretty cool. All day long, people would stop and offer their good wishes. It’s a very large and very close community here. Pretty special stuff.
Tough morning class with a studio owner from CA. It’s interesting to see, and hear about, how other studios operate. This one does not allow anyone to leave his classes unless they are going to be sick. It’s also amazing how, in such a huge class, they can call out corrections to so many people. The usual means of identification is the color of the outfit: “Mr. Blue Shorts! Yes, you there! Your knee is NOT LOCKED!” “Miss Glasses and Tattoos in the pink! Your are not bringing your body down!” Bikram is a little more specific and a little less, um, dainty in his choices of names. Believe me, you never know where they might be looking so you work hard all the time.
That’s Bikram teaching us. As you can see, there are a few of us in the class(this is just the first few rows of the front corner)! As you can also see, I am not in the picture – WAY too close to the eagle eyes. I usually hang out to his right, about 27 rows back in the cheap seats.
Lots more Half Moon poses in the afternoon lecture. Only about 100 more to go and we’re done. Bikram is getting a bit bored and a bit more direct in his commentary so I am so very glad I am done! I got mail which was very cool (a birthday card from my Mom – yay!) – they call out our names and we go up to the stage like happy little summer campers to pick it up.
Very, very hot 5:00 class today, lots of folks falling out. It’s really the first time I sweat like that, and I was finally able to get into some of the postures. Much as we all like to complain about the heat, believe me when I say class is actually harder when it’s cold – you’re so worried about pulling something. He rode us hard, too, even telling someone that “This is Teacher Training, you cannot lie down – get up or leave!” The funniest comment of the class was when he asked a very heavily tattooed young gal, “Your father own tattoo studio? You get buy 1 get 2 free?” He then made us repeat what he would do first thing if he were elected President – make tattoos illegal.
BIG BUMMER – could not get into the buffet. The line was a good 20-30 people back and not moving. So, boring dinner in the room, but I bought a huge bag of peanut M&M’s and ate them in the evening lecture!
Lecture until 11:00pm, movie until 1:45am, back to the room by 2:00am. Lights out on my 50th!
04-27-2010 Day 11
Morning class with Rajashree was quite cool, maybe 80-90 degrees and almost no humidity. The outside weather seems to greatly influence how the tent holds the heat. Rajashree is beginning to push us all further in the class as well, although she is nicer about what she calls us!
We tried a new strategy and ran to the buffet right after class. OK, we’re not going to impress anyone with our looks (or our smell) but there was no line! Still had time to shower before the afternoon lecture so this might be the new approach.
Rajashree was also our afternoon lecturer, speaking of yoga theory and therapy. It’s amaing what yoga can do – in India, if you went to your ‘doctor’ he would prescribe several postures that would cure what ailed you – sore back, stomach ache, headache, flu, whatever. She talked a lot about her history as a yoga champion, how she met Bikram when she won the World Championship and how her father arranged the marriage – she was just 19. When she finished, Bikram then came in and told more about his history as well. He has done so many things, worked with so many people, many extremely famous. This includes President Nixon, whose Phlebitis Bikram cured after the doctors told Nixon he’d have to lose his leg. There is a gal here from Dublin, Ireland who told her story in the posture clinic yesterday, and who broke down into tears after Bikram asked her the details. She was getting her hair cut and the mirror fell off the wall and broke her neck, jaw in two places, as well as all kinds of other damage. She had a halo, multiple surgeries and ended up severely depressed and addicted to pain killers. One of her friends dragged her to a Bikram class and the instructor told her she could absolutely do it. She tried and tried, bought Bikram’s CD and practiced at home and she said his voice inspired her to just keep trying. She stood up there and thanked him for literally saving her life and said how proud she was to be standing in front of him at that moment, a true miracle. It was a very moving moment, and we all lept to our feet in a very long, heartfelt standing ovation. Bikram was also extremely moved.
Anyway, after today’s lectures, more Half Moons. Bikram being Bikram, he mentioned the gal from Dublin again, referring to her as Mirror To Head (I know, but you have to admit it’s funny). We rushed up to our rooms and then the great news… No afternoon class!!!!! The wind is so strong here right now it practicaly lifts me off the ground when I walk and I guess there is an issue with the tent. WOO HOO!
Didn’t exempt us from the evening festivities, of course. We had several long jokes from Bikram, some yoga history and then a movie which was a continuation of last night’s. It seems to be a history of all the main players in Indian lore, although I’m not quite sure. Bikram often narrates to make sure we get the story line, but that, so far, hasn’t helped with my basic understanding of what I’m looking at. It’s an old, very badly acted and dramatic film but the story is good. After the movie, Bikram lectured again about the themes in the film as well as the differences between men and women. Don’t ask. Home by 1:15am so it’s a good night!
04-28-2010 Day 12
God Bless Mother Nature! No afternoon class again! The wind is so strong, the hotel said the tent was unsafe. It’s rocking the lecture tent, that’s for sure. Although they are quite sturdy, the beams seemed to be swaying quite a bit during today’s afternoon posture clinic. We finally finished everyone’s Half Moon! Lord, that seemed to take a LONG time. Listening to 360 people go through it in probably 100 different accents was definitely something I won’t soon forget. Hopefully won’t forget the dialogue, either, when I actually graduate and attempt to teach!
I’m writing during our lovely, long and peaceful dinner break as we all fear tonight will be our 6:00am night. It’s flying around the rumor mills so we’ll see what happens. One can only hope that the wind kicks up and we have to evacuate! How can I even think that, when the millionth and final installment of whatever that movie we’re watching is just waiting for us to come and view it? For shame. I talked to one of the gals in the gift store and she said that, while this is the typically windy time of year in Las Vegas, it’s much worse this year. I personally think it’s a message from the Universe saying “GET SOME SLEEP, YOU FOOLS.”
Morning class was very cool again. I spoke to the nurse yesterday about my shoulder to see if there were any tricks to fixing it quick. She said if I were home, I’d be resting it for 4-6 weeks. As I don’t have that luxury here, she said to just go easy and don’t do any more damage. I wanted it on the record so they don’t think I’m dogging it, and she said to just stay towards the back (NOT a problem, thank you) and if any of the teachers take off after me to just tell them I’m hurt. Works for me. I’m OK in a lot of the postures, except for moving my head back and holding or lifting my arms up. Let’s see, that covers about… most of them.
Have to share some Bikram quotes from today:
1) To a solid, African American gentleman from California with a substantial beard: “You have sweet voice but be careful crossing border. You look like terrorist.” He then turned to us and asked if he were right. We all yelled “NO!” and he said to the gentleman, “They all lie. I the only one who tell the truth. Everyone say baby is cute – I say no, kid is ugly. You be careful, they’ll pull you out of line and we never see you again.”
2) To a poor woman who couldn’t get out a word of the dialogue: “You remind me of time Rajashree went away and left me with daughter. I never changed diaper. She need it changed and I do for first time. I make mess everywhere. Sh%$ all over me, sh$% all over her, sh$% all over floor, sh$% all over everything. That what you just did. Sh%$ all over stage.”
3) To a beautiful Black woman from England with a gorgeous, huge head of curly long hair, who absolutely nailed the dialogue: “You make excellent teacher but not with hair like that. Have to tie it back – it scares people. Pull it back or something or you have no students, they all run away scared.”
Just another day at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. I’ll let you know how we fare tonight!
04-29-2010 Day 13
We had a party last night! Bikram decided to have a pizza party for everyone since we finished Half Moon so early. Ever order pizza for 400? They came in these huge boxes, tons of them. They also bought a boat load of soda. Of course, probably 1/3 of us don’t eat or drink that stuff, but the party was a blast anyway. There are several professional dancers in our midst and they started up in the corner of the lecture tent. It was that kind of expressive, free-form, fling-yourself-across-the-floor type of dance. One of them would move and the others would react to the movement so it was very interesting and flowing. It’s also funny to watch the crowd. Seems no matter where you are, if there is a group of people, mini-sub-societies will form within it. There were the cool kids, the wanna-be’s, the artsy set, us old folks standing back and watching. They rarely formed along national origin lines, which was interesting.
Then, no lecture, no long talks, just a Bollywood movie. It was actually a really good story this time, too. That finished about 1:00 am and Bikram started to rally the crowd for movie #2. Those of Us With Any Sense were quite loud in our pleas for reasonableness, so he said we only had to watch the first 15 minutes of the next one, then we could either leave or stay. About 1/2 hour in, they gave us the high sign and Those Of Us With Any Sense bolted for the doors.
This morning was another very cool class with Rajashree. She also gave another lecture for the afternoon session about yoga theory which was a little hard to follow but interesting nonetheless. She lead us in meditation for a while at the end which was lovely. She will be gone for the next two weeks, lecturing in Europe, and we have been warned that Emmy (sp?) is coming next week. She is an 84 year old master teacher who likes to hold poses long and who apparently can’t stand a sloppy sit-up. Yikes! We then had the 5:00 class (still cold) with Bikram. He was in full glory today, boy. he turned his yoga shorts into a thong to demonstrate how to really tighten your glutes. Priceless. The best quote: “You need to kill yourself in class. If you don’t kill yourself, I kill you. I not die ’til I kill all of you. Then I jump up and down on your coffin and yell Lock the knee!! Lock the knee!! You can’t get into heaven unless knee is locked.” It was my best class since the first day, even with the cold and no humidity. I got further into several of the tougher postures than I ever have.
He tells us regularly that our practice in class is more like what he sees in the 4th or 5th week, not the 1st and 2nd. I asked Richard is this was smoke but he said Bikram never told his group that! Tonight Bikram told us we had the best class ever, he was very impressed. His new startegy, however, is to call out someone who is not doing the posture correctly. He then yells commands and corrections to try to get them to do it right. If that doesn’t work, he makes them do another set, ALONE, while all 360 of us wait and he watches. If you don’t think that will motivate you to do the very best postures you have ever done in your life, you are a stronger person than I!
No idea what’s in store for us this evening. You get very used to just waiting for the next instructions and not trying to anticipate where and when you’re supposed to be doing something. Tomorrow afternoon, we break into our groups and start posture clinics! We were told to make sure to memorize 4-5 postures every weekend in preparation for the upcoming week! Oh, boy, I think the party is truly over.
04-30-2010 Day 14
Last night was a late one. Bikram lectured until about 11:30 and then we got our Bollywood Movie Du Jour. This was actually a really well-made, interesting one so if ya gotta stay up late anyway, at least it was a good watch. Home and in bed at 3:15am.
Class this morning was cold again, and after no sleep, it was very challenging to get into any of the postures. Shoulder was screaming again, which added to the fun. It was, however, the funniest class we’ve had. Our teacher was from NYC and is currently living in Vegas as one of the leads in the show Jersey Boys. What a scream this guy was. I couldn’t do any of Floor Bow because I was literally laughing so hard I couldn’t get a breath in to get off the ground. One of his best, that you might actually find helpful, was during Cobra: “OK, everyone, you are putting on your Little Mermaid costume and it’s a size 1!” I don’t remember seeing that in the dialogue, maybe I missed it… He also told a hysterical story about how one of his replaced hips (metal) popped out during Standing Head to Knee in one of Bikram’s classes. Good way to start the morning, although no sweat came out of anyone whatsoever.
Our brunch startegy is working well this week (we go right after the morning class). It’s more peaceful, less hurrying, no lines and cheaper, too. After that, a shower and studying Backward Bending and Hands To Feet for the Posture Clinic…where I hit my first train wreck. In very painful slow motion. The Clinics are held in a large hotel room, usually set up for a conference but with all of the furniture pushed to the back. We all sit on the floor (about 50 of us) and the ‘stage’ is a towel on the floor. There are 3 demonstrators who do the pose as you say the dialogue. There were also 3 teachers who volunteer to run the Posture Clinics, and who sit on a couch near the towel/stage. They ask who you are, ask a few more questions about you and then, basically, judge you as you perform. They have these huge notebooks that they make notes in as you speak. I waited until about 10-15 people went, just to see what type of feedback would be given. While I didn’t know these two poses quite as well as Half Moon, I did know them verbatim. I then stood up and got into place on the towel. Mostly, I wanted to finish so I could start studying the next posture earlier. Shaking, as usual, I answered their questions and tried to breathe. Started off fine, finished Backward Bending with no problem. I started Hands to Feet, got all the way to where you grab your heels from behind and blanked. When I say blanked, I mean there was NOTHING in my head. One of the teachers kept saying “Continuously” to me, which was not the right word as I needed “Elbows on the legs…” so it messed me up even further. I even asked if I could sit down and come back later but they said to just try. Finally, excruciatingly, after what seemed like an hour, or maybe even a whole day, I picked it up and then went all the way through to the end. MAN was that un-fun. The feedback was OK, as they are used to people choking all over the stage, and my ‘homework’ as they call it, is to be louder.
Tearful call to the Coach elicited an “I told you so.” I was memorizing the words and not thinking of people in the posture, so when I got stuck, the people doing the posture were not a help to me and there was no cue to bring me back.
Warmer class this evening with a gal from Austin, TX. She was very good, and it was nice upbeat class. I studied Awkward The Coach’s way over our dinner break, with Adrienne as the demonstrator. We feared that we’d have to start presenting Awkward already as we were burning through people pretty quickly. We were warned that the evening clinic would go from 9pm to 1am but as soon as everyone finished presenting Back Bending and Hands to Feet, the teachers let us go home. 11:30pm seems like such a blessing when you are expecting 1:00am! Sign up for class in the morning is at 7:30am so off I go to bed.
05-01-2010 Day 15
Man, do I love weekends! Just the change in schedule and the gift of an unhurried day is so wonderful. To be able to sit and eat slowly, actually digest your food before jumping up and having to be somewhere in 1/2 hour is an incredible pleasure. Also, not counting hours until your next class to figure out if and what you can eat is awesome.
Big mission this weekend is to learn the next four postures so that we’ll be set for Posture Clinics this week (Goal: NO TRAINWRECKS). We went to another cold class this morning with one of the regular Teacher Training guys, Mishon (sp?). Pretty basic class, nothing too exciting, although check-in for Saturday classes is 7:30 am so we’re up a little earlier. And early class + cold class = tight, sore and stiff. Sitting on the floor for 5+ hours in a Posture Clinic does not do wonderful things for your back, butt and legs.
Ah, but it’s Saturday and that means after morning class we are free! Free! Free! So, we went to a liesurely brunch (I ate everything I saw and even had pie) and then decided to soak away our injuries and injustices in the hot tub by the pool, doing dialogue, of course. We took turns saying the dialogue and being the demonstrator – which is so, so much easier when you’re in nice, hot water! When we were totally wrinkled, we went to sit in the sun for a few minutes. The last thing you want in a Bikram Yoga class is a sunburn so we are very careful to stay far away from that. We practiced more postures and dialogue by the pool. It was so funny looking around and seeing Teacher Trainees all over the place, saying the dialogue out loud whether by themselves or in groups of other trainees. It must be so very odd to the regular vacationing and conventioneering guests here – they see us walking around mumbling to ourselves, or practicing projecting our voices, or in groups of supporting and clapping yogis, usually dressed in not too many clothes, sometimes carrying mats but ALWAYS with our little, white laminated dialogue books. If they listen to us, we are all repeating the same thing. “Look, Mabel, it’s one a them cults!” It’s liberating to just not care – we’re here to learn this darn stuff and if I have to do Eagle Pose 5 times in front of the whole pool area, so be it.
Back to the room to nail all three parts of Awkward Pose and take a very long shower. Adrienne and I decided to escape the confines of the smokey hotel, now that we are armed with enough knowledge of the area to be dangerous and a very small map. We got to see early evening on The Strip, just as things start to get really interesting around here. I saw that the hotel across the street from us, the Riviera, actually fronts on The Strip so we can walk through it and skip the dicey parts of the walk over there. That hotel also has some great stores and restaurants so we filed that info away for another day. We were both too tired to go do anything else so back to the rooms to relax and get to bed early. I had to learn Eagle before I was allowed to do anything else (including writing this) and mission accomplished! Tomorrow, we’re getting together with one or two other gals so we can practice in a line up to mimic the Posture Clinic environment and, yes Coach, to look at the bodies! Missing everyone a lot tonight so hopefully some tea and TV will help take the edge off of that. Tomorrow – NO ALARM CLOCK. Woo hoo!
05-02-2010 Day 16
Waking up without an alarm clock is a luxury I truly treasure. Even if you still wake up at the same time, not having to leap out of bed and start rushing around is beautiful. I still woke up at 6:00 am this morning, but just laid in bed and let my beat up body remain supine for a nice long time. Of course, I was laying there reciting the dialogue, but at least I wasn’t moving!
Adrienne and I got together with Hye this morning, a lovely gal originally from Korea who lives in CA. We had one reciting, one demonstrating and one checking dialogue. It’s amazing how you can know the words cold and then lose them all when you’re looking at someone in front of you. That, however, was the point, so we can get over it now and hopefully not do it when we’re on the hot seat. It definitely pointed up our ‘stuck spots’ so we know where we need to practice. I am so impressed with Hye as English is her second language – I cannot imagine how hard that must be, it’s like having to learn the dialogue twice. She knows the stuff as well or better than we do.
We then went to the hot tub but the wind was so ridiculous it was literally blowing the water out of the pool. Back to the room to start studying anatomy. They gave us these great books and a list of questions to find the answers to. It’s easy for Adrienne as she taught this stuff (she was a gym teacher, then taught aspiring gym teachers at a University) but for me it’s all starting from scratch. It’s truly another language. We have to get at least a 70% on the exam to pass, and we get 10 extra points if we go see the Bodies exibit at a nearby hotel. We went to see it when it was in Hartford, it’s very interesting. It was not high on my list to see again but for 10 points, I’m going next weekend. I figure any extra insurance is good!
Early dinner and then back to learn the next posture, at least the words for now, for Standing Head to Knee. I got it mostly down so I’ll be able to have a base to work from in case we get to it this week.
I was able to speak with Richard about the Posture Clinic – sounds like it was awesome! Thank you so much to all of you who helped, especially Pam Defeo for being ‘me’ there and making sure everything looked great, and to Dan Mainolfi and Chuyoung for bringing some delicious food (I’m sorry if I missed anyone else!). Thanks to Lincoln for helping to free the birds! I guess they wanted to show off their Full Locust Pose (you know, taking off like a 747?). If anyone took any pictures of the event, please send them along.
Tomorrow starts Week Three. Both Bikram and Rajashree are away at other events for about a week, and Emmy is set to arrive. We’ve been warned that this is where the rubber hits the road so we’ll see what happens!
05-03-2010 Day 17
Monday morning (again). Up at 6:45 am to drink the protein drink (I mix “The Ultimate Meal” with OJ, it’s got all this great stuff in it and doesn’t taste too horrible), take my supplements with a ton of water, reset the alarm for 7:30 am and lie back down. I have to get at least 2 hours between food and a Bikram class, so this is the only way I’ve come up with to accomplish that. Back up at 7:30 to run around and get down to sign-in by 8:00 am.
We had the famous Emmy for a teacher this morning. From what we’d been told, we all expected to see horns and a tail but she is this solid woman with a big voice and a trace of an accent, who wanders throughout the room and corrects people as she goes. I can’t say her comments are exactly nice (she likes to ask if someone is hard of hearing when they aren’t doing something exactly as she says), but they are helpful. She is 84 and probably looks in her 60’s. She’s been practicing almost 40 years! And she does not mess around. And one does not mess around in her class. So, she’s standing directly in front of me while I’m trying to do Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. My back was so tight and sore today after being so good since I got here – I finally realized that I had been doing the right side of Standing Head to Knee in the mirror for almost two hours last night while trying to memorize the dialogue, that’ll do it. So my forehead is NO where near my knee and I know she’s looking right at me. I stretch my neck down as hard as I could and saw the black cloud start to crawl over my vision. That’s my black-out warning so I stood up (after I finished the posture, of course) and tried to breathe deeply, which usually brings me back when I’m home. No such luck. It started to get worse and my ears began ringing, too. If I didn’t go down by taking a knee, I was going to go down good and ugly. I chose the knee. It actually took all the way through Tree and Toe before I could see again, but I was fine after that. And no Emmy comments! Lesson learned – don’t over-stretch the neck when you are upside-down.
We had our first Anatomy class today, with an MD from the Las Vegas ER. He was extremely knowledgeable, very funny and very easy to listen to. It’s still all Greek to me but, like the dialogue, just have to get to memorizing it. At least our afternoon lectures will be interesting this week!
They gave us assigned areas today for the 5:00 class – with our groups. Our spot was from lines 3 through 5, so quite a bit closer up from where I’ve been hiding out. The areas are going to rotate throughout the week so everyone has to mix it up a bit – yay. Our teacher was Dave from Dallas, and he was very good. Very clear and upbeat and he totally stayed with the dialogue so it was a good study tool. Most of the teachers have their own schtick so you can’t listen with any ear towards helping you memorie the real dialogue. Bikram actually said that we have to use the dialogue for the first year and then he doesn’t care what we say. Dave used to be a lawyer and hated it so now he and his wife own a studio. He said he became a transactional lawyer rather than a trial lawyer because he hated speaking in front of people so instead, here he was, speaking half naked in front of 350 people!
Posture Clinic was at 9:00. Our teachers tonight were pushing hard for volume and dramatics and less for exact dialogue (knid of the opposite of what I had to offer). Just as I was about to think about braving it, they called it a night early, so I’ll be up tomorrow night. Hopefully the teachers for that session will be looking more for dialogue and less for Broadway!
05-04-2010 Day 18
So they finally got the heat working! Good hot class this morning, which sucked all the energy out of me by half-way through the floor series. You just keep moving, though, as with Emmy teaching, you do not want to wimp out. She has a wonderful saying: “You will not get anywhere in your yoga practice without frequency, intensity and precision.” It’s a great way to describe the difference between just doing the class, and really having a yoga practice. Even if you cannot do the posture (yet!), she says it is the intention that matters, you must see yourself in the posture and be intense in your pursuit of it. We had our first “emotional release” in class, where someone just began to cry hysterically. I honestly thought she broke something, but it was just pent-up emotion being brought out by the yoga. According to Richard, this will probably now become a regular occurrence. Hope I’m not next.
Emmy was our afternoon lecturer today as well so we were able to hear more about her many, many years of practice. She spoke mainly about pain – quite appropriate a subject for most of the trainees. It was geared towards folks in our studios who have various issues with various body parts and how to assist them. She is a big believer in Mind Over Matter and cites many studies about how the brain can overcome pain. I am working on getting my brain to overcome my shoulder issue so I’ll let you know how I do. Another point that she stresses, and quotes Bikram about as well, is that the yoga is not about the postures, it is about your body. I particularly like the stories of how Bikram Yoga has healed so many different people with so many different issues.
Evening class was a scorcher! I planted myself under the misters, these pipes that squirt out mist, which is where the humidity comes from in the tent. They had them really rocking today, more like rain than mist. While it was a great idea from a hydration standpoint and a cooling-off standpoint, it had its distinct downside – in Camel, I thought I was going to drown and I had to close my eyes because my contact lenses were starting to float out of my eyes. Floor series was nice, though, with the cool rain falling down on you. People were dropping like flies, and leaving the room one after another. The teacher was great – extremely high-energy gal who owns Bikram Yoga Green Valley in Las Vegas.
Then, the announcement that we would have another anatomy class with the cool doc instead of Posture Clinic! I knid of wanted to get it done but it’s also a nice break. His lecture was on bones and then we started muscles. He is so very funny, such an excellent teacher, the time is really enjoyable even though I am so lost half the time. He finished around 11:00pm and our leader, Bikram’s Executive Assistant, Monalee (sp?) got up and, after a few announcements, told us to get ready for Posture Clinic. Lots of groans and no one was really sure if she was serious. Apparently one of the trainees took exception to the idea (loudly) and asked in not the correct tone whether or not she was serious. Monalee took exception to her tone and thus ensued a bit of a discussion, crossing many different points by which the trainee should have sat down and chosen silence as a better option. Ah, she didn’t choose any of those crossing points and ended up being told to leave the training, permanently. This will definitely give everyone something to talk about besides their aches and pains for a while. What trumped that, however was that I got mail! Yes, they called my name and I got to stand up and get my lovely card from my sweetheart. Ain’t he grand?
Hot class this morning! You can sort of predict it based on the weather when you walk out to the tent. This morning was gorgeous – blue skies, hot sun, no wind. Emmy taught again and she wasn’t quite as patient with us as she has been (everything being relative on the patience thing…). I have added my lower back to my unfortunately growing list of body aches so it was a tough one for me, and I ended up coming out of some of the postures early. Sometimes, when the teachers get to correcting people or discussing points of a posture, they neglect to tell you when to get into a posture and when to come out so it can be a little fluid. You kind of look around and try to figure out what everyone else is doing – and they are all mostly looking around trying to see what everyone else is doing. Other teachers are adament in the ‘don’t move until I tell you to’ department. Just like our days and nights here, you never know what you’ll get until you get there. We are learning to be flexible – in many, many ways! The afternoon lecture was Emmy doing a Triangle Fest. She invited anyone to come up and do Triangle for her to correct and comment on. If you’d like, you could also do another posture that you were having trouble with. I would have actually gone up to have her try to get me into Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose but, as I went there expecting a lecture, I had a sundress on (see – that expectation thing getting in the way again!) so that was out of the question. All the teachers here seem to say that your forehead must touch the floor and that anyone can do it if they try. I currently beg to differ, as I’m about foot off the ground and am certainly trying. One of these days, I’ll challenge one of them to bend me into it. If I come home permanently bent over double, you’ll know why. The 5:00 pm class was treat as we had the Jersey Boys star again, Johnny. It started out scorching but the wind picked up during class and it ended almost cold. A few great quotes from Johnny:1) During Camel: “Let your head fall back – it helps to let everything fall out of your brain at this point in the class. Leave it on the towel!”2) During Blowing in Firm Pose: “OK, people, this is to cleanse the body. Clean out the apartment, get rid of anything that’s not paying rent.”3) During Floor Bow: “It helps if you smile, really it does. Yes, you may look queer but consider the source.”He also told a hysterical story about when he was in Teacher Training with new shorts on, which his friend quickly pointed out had a hole in a very inopportune position. As Johnny said, he looked down and “Hello Cleveland!” He had to run out at the last minute and replace them with a pair of blue and yellow neon striped ones he had with him. Bikram later commented on his Standing Bow Pulling Pose but then saw his shorts and yelled at him. Johnny said, “But Bikram, they are yellow and blue!” to which Bikram replied “Yellow and blue make green! Get Out!” he left us with a great one: FAITH. It stands for “Finally Allowing It To Happen.”Evening lecture was with the very funny Dr.P. I think I actually know a few muscles now, which is a good thing because there is a quiz on Monday – yikes! He told some side-splitting tales of life in the ER and his first days as a third year resident (one of which involved a uterus that exploded all over the room and him with stuff dripping down from the lights – I guess you had to be there but don’t worry, everyone lived and was fine). I wore my ‘Because It Works’ tee shirt tonight and everyone was stopping me and commenting about it and our awesome logo. Very cool! Once again, no Posture Clinic tonight and a relatively early (11:30pm) exit. I was actually (and pathetically) disappointed as I am really, really tired of reciting all three parts of Awkward Pose in the shower. I’m practicing my volume (as I have none), and the teachers said the shower was a good place to yell. For all I know, they can hear me all over the hotel. Bikram is back on Monday so we are being warned at every turn to get ready. I don’t actually know how to get ready for whatever is coming next but will approach it as I am trying to approach everything here – don’t worry, just show up and absolutely don’t anticipate. Life lessons abound. Richard mentioned that some of you wonderful people were looking for a way to get in touch with me – please feel free to email: email@example.com – at any time. It might take a bit for me to write back depending on the day’s schedule but non-spam and non-bill-related emails are always very welcome! Good strong class this morning. There was a little heat but not a lot and my back felt better. The motivation might have come from the fact that my current rotation is at Rows 1 and 2 so I am up at the mirror. As far away from the podium as I can get, mind you, but up front nonetheless. The “mirrors” are actually made of mylar stretched across moveable panels. The only problem was that it got very windy again, and the panels wave and sway with the wind. Add that to the billowing tent ceiling and you get very seasick very fast. So I would check the mirror quickly for my alignment and then look away as fast as possible to the bottom edge of the panel. A little disorienting! Emmy was our instructor again and, as she teaches mostly from the back of the room, I was actually safer up front. The guy in front of me literally did a few of the standing series, stood out most of them and then when we went down on the floor, he never moved again. Not hurt or sick, just total nap time! Afternoon lecture was with the awesome Dr. P where we have moved on to the muscles of the legs, feet, pelvis and arms. It’s a blistering pace (for me, anyway) but they did give us good study guides. He is funny, too, in letting us know what to remember, like, “The Sartorius is the longest muscle in the human body.” Pause. “THE SARTORIUS MUSCLE IS THE LONGEST MUSCLE IN THE HUMAN BODY. You might want to write that down.” He also uses people to demonstrate the movement of various sytems so he’ll ask for a very short person and a very large person to come up on stage, and then move them around and make them bounce up and down to mimic some muscle movement. Never a shortage of volunteers with this crowd! Remind me when I get back if any of you have sciatica issues – he gave us some wonderful stretches that will fix you right up. Although the content of his lectures is still very foreign to me, I figure I have all weekend to study, on top of memorizing the dialogue, of course. I got a chance to speak with him during the break about my shoulder. He said rest alone would help and, in the absence of rest, anti-inflammatories. I guess I will have to break down and buy some Advil. Good news is that I am not going to do any permanent damage by continuing to do the classes, as long as I don’t overdo. Good afternoon class up at the front again, although my back was out once more. At least it’s hotter at the front (famous last words, I’m sure) so the heat allowed me to move it better. The teacher was a gal who owns a studio on Vancouver Island. Good energy and almost perfect dialogue so it was good to listen and study along. She quoted Rajashree at one point, about how Rabbit Pose is good for curing fatigue, depression and memory loss. She said it’s also good for the voices in your head. I wanted to raise my hand and ask if it put more voices in your head or if it was supposed to remove them but I didn’t think that would be very appropriate at that particular moment. Posture Clinic tonight! A couple of us got together early to practice in the actual room where ours was to be held. I thought if we could stand in the exact place (they now have taped boxes on the floor) and say it out loud in front of someone before the event started, it would get rid of some of the willies. It definitely worked for me – I got every word of the dialogue exactly correct! They said good pa
ce, good inflection. I even increased my volume, but not nearly enough for them. My homework is to stand in the closet and have someone far and away outside to listen to me and make sure they can hear me. OK. We had one of the tougher teachers, but the feedback was mostly very helpful. This group of teachers was very much about just burn through and get people in and out of the postures and far less about knowing the dialogue verbatim. Once again, you never know what you’ll get! There are so very many people for whom this is such an impossible task, I really feel for them. You can just feel the whole room pulling for them, saying the missing word inside our heads as loud as we can, hoping it will travel into the presenter’s brain. There but for the grace of whoever go all of us so we all feel their pain. Word on the street is that Kicked Out Girl is back, they apologized to each other and got over it in very yoga-like fashion. Good stuff. Tomorrow is a Friday which means we survived another week! One at a time, they do definitely go past.
05-07-2010 Day 21
It was our last class with Emmy this morning, as she is headed back to the Mother Ship (Los Angeles Corporate). It was not particularly hot so I was not particularly loose, as usual. It’s kind of funny when she walks around – they have a big, huge, booming sound system so the teachers are always extremely loud but with Emmy you never know where she is. All of a sudden you’ll look up and she’s standing right in front of you – very freaky. While it really makes me want to laugh out loud, that is not something that one does in class with Emmy standing in front of you. A few good pieces from her:
1) Always work on breathing from the diaphram. She quoted a German study that showed diaphram breathing was 15% more effective at cleaning the lymph system than the shallower upper-lung breathing that most of us do.
2) “Yoga is the thinking person’s exercise. One cannot practice yoga mindlessly.”
3) “Find the stillness in the posture. The yoga begins in that stillness.”
We hear that she will be back later in the training to check us on our sit-ups.
Afternoon lecture was Anatomy with Dr. P. He told us “his story” today, which was in his usual side-splitting manner. I have to keep reminding myself that this guy is an emergency room MD. I’ve never seen anyone outside of a professional comedian who could have a group of 350+ people rolling on the floor. He should go pro, really. It’s a very long and extremely funny story that involves cheerleading, anatomy, grad school, massage school, med school and a car accident. We then finished muscles and moved to the nervous system. It’s fascinating stuff, I wish I could just sit and listen instead of worrying about capturing all the right stuff in my notes. They talked about our test (this Monday) and I am not overly concerned about it as I have all weekend to learn the stuff in the study guide. We are also going the the Bodies exhibit at some point so we can get our extra credit points.
The 5:00 class was scorching hot, I was dripping like a faucet. There is definitely a drastic difference in the areas of the room, as Adrienne’s assigned row was probably five behind me and she didn’t crack a sweat at all. It felt good to sweat like that again, believe it or not. It also made me a little looser so I could do more of the postures and do them a little better. I’m still nowhere near where I was when I left, which seems counterintuitive. I would have thought that I’d be so much better by now, but I think the constantness of the beating on oneself along with the injuries and the inconsistant room temperature have set me back from a flexibility standpoint. My strength and endurance are both very good, however.
Evening Posture Clinic and another success! I waited for about 10 of the eager beavers to jump up and go, then positioned myself to pounce at the next opportunity. The way they work them is whoever gets to the stage/towel first gets to go next. They have a very odd aversion to lines here, although we all really would like to form one. Anyway, I have been working on getting over myself so I can just get up and deliver without all the internal drama. I know that I know the dilogue cold, so it’s total nonsense that keeps me full of nerves. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. I was a lot less shaky getting up this time, and I was definitely louder. So tonight they decided I needed to be more commanding. I was told to plant my feet way far apart, put my fists on my hips, puff out my chest and pretend I was Superman, then re-deliver the first 4-5 lines. OK. At least I am done with Eagle now and can spend the weekend on memorizing the next four postures. Tomorrow is Saturday! Just one morning class and finally some unscheduled time. I might have a long night however. As I was getting ready for Posture Clinic, I head my new next-door neighbors moving in. The first hint of trouble: “OH MY GOD, I can’t believe I’m 21 and I’m in VEGAS!!!” Multiple ear-splitting screams. Ruh Roh, Rooby Roo.
05-08-2010 Day 22
Nice day today, although packed with studying. Tough but fun class this morning with Judes, a traveling teacher originally from Australia. There are a ton of people from Australia here, they are probably second only to the Canadians in the largest numbers of other-than-Americans. She was very upbeat, high energy, and did a lot of sing-songing of the dialogue. I do think she held us in triangle for at least 20 minutes, however… There is a second class on Saturdays at 11:00 for anyone who owes a make-up class, and today the list was over 70 people long! You get on the A List if you are late to anything or forget to sign in for anything, or if you offend one of the staff in some way. It is my personal mission to never get my name on that list. I do believe I get enough yoga in the regular classes (11 per week)!!
We went to the hotel spa today to have a soak in the in-door jacuzzi and check the place out. We have been allowed free access to the spa and heard it was great. We were a little underwhelmed but it was very nice to loosen up all the sore muscles. I finally got hold of some Advil and MAN is it nice not to hurt. Much as I have spent all these years getting chemicals out of my system, sometimes you just have to use the big medicine and boy, does it work. I am hoping that a day and a half on an anti-inflammatory and with no yoga classes will get me on the mend quick before I have to hit the Big Leagues again on Monday morning.
After a HUGE lunch at our favorite buffet, back to studying dialogue and then Anatomy. I have Standing Head to Knee down and am rounding the bend on Standing Bow. The goal is to have those two nailed and get a good head start on Balancing Stick by the end of tomorrow. Given that we have to go to the Bodies exhibit to get our 10 extra credit points for the Anatomy test at some point tomorrow, plus studying for the exam, I have my work cut out for me.
Grocery shopping this evening at our favorite Walmart, which we hope will last us another 3-4 weeks. It’s a lengthy process to get taxied over there, shop, wait for a taxi back (today that wait was 45 minutes) and lug the bags back to the hotel. It is worth the effort, however, as it saves so much to be able to eat dinner in the room. I also got a little 1-serving blender so I can throw a banana into my morning protein drinks to try to pump up the energy level this coming week. We’ve been warned that Bikram is back on Monday and our late nights will begin again so I’ll need all the help I can get! The only thing on my mind, however, is that I do not have to set my alarm clock tonight. That is a wonderful, beautiful and inspiring gift.
A very Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Moms out there. I hope you have a lovely day!
05-09-2010 Day 23
Lovely Sunday! Had a nice long sleep and then we went to study Anatomy by the pool. It’s a little windy but the sun is nice and hot here. We seem to be getting most of the answers right when we quiz each other, so I’m feeling pretty confident. We then tried to go to the buffet but there was a holiday brunch on that cost twice as much as the regular one. As we don’t drink (especially not at breackfast!!), all that extra is wasted on us. The upshot was that we found a small deli-style place tucked in the back of the casino area that does simple sandwiches and stuff. It’ll be a nice change up once in a while and they have FRENCH FRIES. Pretty good ones, too.
I have to complain for just a minute about being in a hotel casino for a yoga event. Everyone smokes and having to walk through the casino and smoke to get to the eating places is just so uncool. All of your clothes and your hair smells within a minute. I have to hang everything out to air as soon as I get back to the room. Ick. I’ve also developed an immediate hacking cough response to being in the lobby or casino areas, which is just so attractive.
Enough of that. We went back and studied Standing Head to Knee and Bow Pulling Pose and now have them both down really well. I’ll learn the words to Balancing Stick tonight so I’ll have it in reserve in case we burn through the others. About half of the people still have to get through Eagle Pose but that’s a quick one so if there are a lot of posture clinics this week, we’ll definitely get to at least two more by Friday. I think we’ll probably hang up there for a bit, however, as they are long and some of the folks will be struggling with them. That really slows down the process quite a bit, but it does continue to cement the dialogue into your brain for future use. I found a few pictures that other people have posted:
This is the Zico restocking event, a happy sight. Behind where the driver is sitting is the entrance to the class tent and in front of him (not seen) is where all of the lectures take place. There is a small ‘store’ where they sell Bikram stuff, Zico and water.
At least you can get an idea of the layout of our little world. If you are looking at the tent picture, the hotel is behind you down a nice little concrete path. There are some trees and a few pretty little bushes along the way. There is a sizeable bird population that lives in the trees, so you get to hear them singing on the way to and from classes. It is a very welcome sound in this paved city.
We decided that we would rather study harder and skip the extra credit today, as the cost and time involved in getting to the Bodies exhibit just didn’t seem to be worth it ($35 ticket, $10 monorail or $15 cab). I will, hopefully, not be eating those words tomorrow afternoon! More studying tonight, lots more practice on the dialogue and then, prep for the big day tomorrow – Bikram’s return. I hope all you Moms had a fantastic day!
05-10-2010 Day 24
Dave taught this morning (the ex-lawyer from Dallas). Good class, although little to no heat and the misters were COLD! He told a very inspiring story of a kid from the rough side of town who came to his studio at 18 years old, 40 pounds overweights, suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, couldn’t even touch his knees, let along his toes. He took the 30-day special and came every day. At the end of that, he worked off his class costs. He sat right up front at every posture clinic, and heard about an upcoming competition. He told Dave he wanted to be in it, even though Dave knew he wouldn’t win anything. He loved the competition so much, he said the next one, he wanted to win. He worked so hard, he actually placed in the next one. He kept working and competing until he won the state competition, then the regional, then came in second in the international competition. He is now a teacher who lectures all over the world. What was even cooler is that Dave told the story a little bit at a time in each of the savasanas so the whole floor series FLEW by as we waited for the next installment of the story. Great strategy to make a class disappear!
We studied Anatomy over brunch and were really getting all of the answers so we felt pretty confident. Then, back in the room, I decided that merely answering questions in a study guide was not enough. I wanted to feel Anatomy rather than just study it. I wanted to see the real thing. I wanted to live it, not read about it. So, coming out of the shower, I slid in a puddle of water on the tile and ripped my ear open on the corner of the table. Overly dramatic? I suppose so, but when you really feel something, I think you should follow through. Besides, the teachers in Posture Clinic keep telling me I’m not dramatic enough.
So, I’m sitting there on the floor, naked, with blood spouting out of my head like a faucet and I can feel pieces of my ear that are where they normally aren’t. What am I thinking about? Primarily, how I can get cleaned up, clothed and down to sign-in on time so I don’t have to do the stinking makeup class on Saturday. With that kind of motivation, all sorts of problem-solving skills jump to attention. I dragged myself up, sopped up all the blood with the towels and kept pressing them to my ear to try to stem the bleeding. I looked down and was standing in another puddle of blood and was more annoyed than worried – this time it was my toe, which got the top sliced off somehow in the fall. I got it stopped enough to get over to the mini-fridge and pull out my little cold pack. We haven’t had first aid yet but I do know cold and pressure. I got a comb through my hair, found a sundress that I could step into and pull up rather than over my head, with matching flip-flops, of course. I then grabbed my backpack with all the necessary stuff for lecture and the exam (fully prepared to take the stupid thing and get it over with) and very determinedly headed down to sign-in. I thought if I could make it down the hall to the elevator without falling over, I was good to go. I get to the sign in desk and, by this point, the cloth I have to my head is starting to turn red. One of the teachers looks up in alarm and says “What are you doing?!” I said, “I have to sign in!” She immediately steered me towards the nurse’s tent (I was going to ask to go there, really) but not before I got my damn initials on the line! Yes! I’m in!
The nurse took one look at it and said, “Way to get out of the exam, Girl.” She took me to the Physician’s Assistant who was in the lecture tent so I got all the eyes on me as she took the cloth away and said, “Yup, she needs Plastics, I’ll call the ER.” She works there so can pull strings. Adrienne was there at that moment as well, as she had been saving a seat for me, and told me what a nice job of it I’d done. One of the teachers drove us to the ER, where Lauren the Nurse and I spent a lovely afternoon. Lauren is awesome, a really wonderful person and fun to be with as well. I apologized for taking up her afternoon but she said at least mine was interesting (she’s had a lot of trips to the ER in the last couple of weeks), and she enjoyed watching all the procedures. We were seen very quickly, as we got in before “Happy Hour” as the nurses there called it (the place was full by the time we left). Had a great ER Doc, very nice young guy, and all the nurses were so friendly and funny. He said we could wait for the plastic surgery guys, which would be 4-5 HOURS or he could do it there. He said if he started and couldn’t get it right, he’d put it on ice and call them. Not seeing any ear modeling in my immediate future, I chose the quick route out. As he tried to piece the puzzle together, I remembered that I saw a good-sized chunk go down the drain back at the hotel and he said yes, that was definitely making things a little more interesting for him. Eight stitches to the cartilage and another 8-10 in the skin and he was done. Apparently he did a really good job because lots of the other docs and nurses and students came by to look at it and they were all impressed that it looked like an ear again. He said my toe wasn’t worth stitching up, it would probably heal fine on its own, and the huge and growing black, blue and purple mark on my hip was just going to be really sore for a while. The worst of it was the tetanus shot, man do those hurt! Well, I take that back, the worst is that I have to have this wrap around my head to keep pressure on the ear so I don’t get Cauliflower Ear. You know that self-portrait Van Gogh did post-ear-removal? Yep.
So, no classes until I get cleared at my follow-up visit on Wednesday, No water either, so no showers – probably a good thing, given my new-found talent. I do have to sign-in for everything and I get to go to the lectures and Posture Clinics but I had to stay in my room tonight. The hotel just sent up a fruit basket so I’m happy. A little throbby, but happy. What some people won’t do to get out of a few classes!
05-11-2010 Day 25
I’m sorry that I don’t have anything equally exciting to report today (thank God). Got up for the perennial, all-consuming sign-in, and they decided that I should sit in on the class as our own Diane Ducharme was teaching! Lots of looks, lots of concerned comments, lots of explaining what I did to myself later, and I got to sit in a chair in the back of the room near the very kind and sweet sound guy, Ben, and listen to the class. I saw Diane before class and when she asked what I did, I told her I’ve taken her classes before and had to find a good way out. She was her usual awesome self and people loved her.
As you can see, no amount of adversity will put me off my food (and yes, Mom, all food groups are appropriately represented).
Went back down for the sign-in for Anatomy lecture and saw Terri from Merrimac. She said she was going to rat me out to Richard that there was no ear story, I really had plastic surgery. Norman and Louise from New Hampshire are also here, and on the way back from Lecture, I saw Linda and Natasha from Glastonbury. It’s great to see familiar faces!
I had to come back again to sign in for the 5:00 class and await my instructions. Once signed in, I was released on my own recognizance and sent back to my room, where I studied again for the ill-fated Anatomy exam that I was to take at 7:00 after the class ended. I also made sure I had Standing Head to Knee ready to present as I now am in the Get It The Hell Over With As Soon As Possible mode and my group reported that most people had finished Eagle.
Armed and ready, I waited at the elevator for 15 minutes and finally had to give up and sprint down the stairs (16 floors) so I wouldn’t be late and, you guessed it, have to take the stinking make-up class on Saturday. I made it, barely, and sat down with the exam – which took me 9 minutes. And I checked all the answers twice. I turned my ear into a jigsaw puzzle for this?
Posture Clinic at night, from 8:30 to 11:30. I got up and got it done as soon as possible before the nerves had time to set in. Dave was our lead teacher and he asked what I did to myself, to which I replied that I tried to get out of the Anatomy exam by slicing my ear off, which everyone enjoyed. As every teacher has their own idea of how we should begin (most want us to say, “My name is Laurie Krause and I AM your yoga teacher” to empower us). Dave said he had absolutely no preference what we chose, so I said, “I am Laurie Krause and I’m a big fan of Vincent Van Gogh” which brought a good laugh. Feedback tonight? I need to smile more when I deliver the dialogue. OK. I thought that’s what I used to do before they decided I needed to be more commanding but, OK. Tough to stay upright and awake through the end but we made it. Oh – last night when I finally got to sit down with some tea, my Yogi tea bag tab said: “Grace brings contentment.” A little late with the advice! Early doctor’s appointment tomorrow so hopefully he’ll clear me to lose this stunning fashion statement of a headpiece.
05-12-2010 Day 26
Started the day with calls to the insurance company and my home doc to get me covered for all of this way-the heck-out-of-network stuff. Seems the insurance company wants my doc to give a referral to the Las Vegas doc but my doc won’t refer me unless he sees me. Now, seems to me that if I could see my regular doc, I wouldn’t need a referral to a Las Vegas doc, now would I? Call me crazy. And all this before 6:00 am my time.
Went down to sign in at 8:30 and waited for one of the senior techers, Michon, who had very kindly offered to drive me to the doctor’s appointment back at the hospital. I got to go to the Burn Unit which is where all the ‘Plastics’ guys hang out. Took about an hour in Admitting but once I cleared that fence, I was seen pretty quickly. The ear is healing well and they released me from the head gear! As that was my only goal for the visit, anything else was gravy. It is very, very hard to stay under the radar and pretend to be anonymous when you’re walking round with such a striking white headpiece. The doc said I could practice again as long as my ear didn’t start to swell again or to throb too much, and I can’t put any pressure on it. Sounded good to me! They cleaned it up (ouch) and let me loose. Michon came to get me and I got back in enough time to finally take a shower and hoof it to Posture Clinic.
The group finished Eagle and moved on to Standing Head to Knee. I waited for a couple of people to go – there was no rushing the box necessry as the speed at which we burned through Eagle surprised most of us and a lot of people were not ready for the next one. I had it done, memorized and had just said it out loud 10 times to myself and to friends so I wanted to move on to studying Balancing Stick which is a BEAR. Not a stellar performance today, I’m afraid. I let the crowd and the FIVE teachers we had in the room get to me and I lost my train. It might have worked out for the best, however, as all they could really say to me was practice more and relax. I do have to smile stupidly all the way through Balancing Stick, oh yay. People who had the dialogue perfect were made to do all kinds of crazy stuff like, “Re-do it and pretend you are telling them the biggest secret they have ever heard,” and “You are a used car salesman, sell this to them!” and my favorite, “You are a Televangelist, let’s hear it again!” Coach said I finished the posture and that is the goal, just keep knocking them down and soon I’ll be done. He also had a ton of great advice, as always, so I will employ all of it in my next appearance.
Nice, hot 5:00 class with Bikram tonight. He was pretty rough on everyone at the beginning, calling people out in a way you really do not want to be called out. He said at the end of the class that he tried to be a jerk (word substituted) but by Eagle he gave up because everyone is doing so well. Nurse Lauren told me to hide in the back of the class for while until I am no longer handicapped so no one will pick on me – I’m sure you know what my reaction to that was (imagine a very reserved Happy Dance)! I was actually able to do a lot more than I thought I could, I just rested on my right cheekbone instead of my ear, and kept my arms away during the stretchy poses. I am, however, feeling the effects of the fall on the tile floor in other various parts.
Quick dinner at the buffet, where we were joined by the dancer from Dublin and another trainee from Canada by way of Mexico. Lovely company and we were all famished so everything tasted great. Rushed up to shower and pack up for a long night at the Bikram Big Top. Anatomy first from 9:00 to 11:00, short break and then our Main Man who went over the types of yoga and other things. And then, the surprise – he let us out at 1:30am! No movie! Huge! Awesome! Bedtime!
05-13-2010 Day 27
So sorry for the delay in the posts! I’m running from class to Posture Clinic to Class to Lecture, trying to learn dialogue in between, and he’s been keeping us up LATE.
Thursday is when you can almost smell the weekend and feel a break coming soon. Maybe not soon enough, but at least it’s almost within reach. Our morning class was, let’s say, EXTENDED. The teacher was a studio owner from LA and he liked to impart much wisdom before, during and after each pose. Mostly during. We knew we were in trouble in Pranayama because half of the inhales and exhales were about double time. One incident in particular is still being talked about in the elevators, which occurred during Hands to Feet Pose. Did you ever wonder what a Japanese Ham Sandwich was? Well, now we know, in great and specific detail, learned while upside down holding our heels (well, in my case, kind of on both counts). His wife is Japanese and he went into a long explanation of how it’s one fluffy white piece of bread, on which you put some lettuce, mustard and I couldn’t hear but something else, add one very small and thin slice of ham, after which you place another fluffy white piece of bread… you get the drift. If any of the 350+ thoughts in the room were manifested, I think he would have been taken out in lots of creative ways (very un-yogi-like!!). TWO HOURS later, there was no time for lunch and very little time to study.
My Posture Clinic was with Terri, the New Hampshire studio owner who is just absolutely, without a doubt, one of the kindest and most fun people you will ever meet. She was assisted by CT’s own Linda and Natasha. They were all so very helpful and funny, funny, funny. As I did not need to go up, it was even more enjoyable to be there. Terri had tons of advice on surviving the remainder of the training, as well as teaching and ownership styles, so we all hung on her every word.
Evening class was a challenge. It was pretty hot, Bikram was in rare form and you had to have very, very tough skin this evening to survive. There is a sizeable contingent of folks who jockey for mat space right in front of and around the huge podium and they must either be really smart to be looking for direct feedback, or really insanely masochistic. This evening, I’m going for the latter. A couple of poor souls had their fingers apart during Cobra (remember, “five fingers together”) and that set off quite an interesting, creatively worded and extensive lecture, mostly about paying attention. I was very, very thankful, once again, for my nurse’s excuse for my hidden back row mat space.
Lots of visiting teachers have come in for the Recertification Class this weekend. Every three years, you have to be recertified to continue to teach. I saw Chris! A very welcome face and his ever-present and wonderful smile lit up the whole area.
Quick dinner at the buffet, even quicker shower, then packing up for the evening lecture. You have to be prepared for anything, so I bring my soft fleece throw (the lecture tent can either be hot or freezing), a sweatshirt, my neck pillow, water, tea, snacks, a notebook, my contact lense case and glasses and of course, our new appendage, the book of dialogue. Then, you just hope for the best. Tonight was not necessarily what one would hope for – long lecture and then we saw old TV clips of his many appearances with various TV shows. These included some very interesting footage from the 1970’s show “That’s Incredible!”. Bikram laid on a bed of nails, put a board over himself and then a guy drove a motorcycle over it. Bikram’s guru did the same with a huge elephant walking across. I’m sure there were many others but I was long gone by that time, bobbing against my neck pillow, contacts out long ago. Back in the hotel room at 3:30am, bed at 3:45.
05-14-2010 Day 28
It’s Friday! Saturday afternoon is so close you can touch it, and that energy is quite necessary after so little sleep as we all trudge back to the yoga tent. Our teacher this morning was Martha, a studio owner from Minneapolis. She was very entertaining as she likes to sing random songs and if you guess the artist or the next line, you get a prize. I have some GREAT info: I know who L Like Linda is!!! She was one of Bikram’s first students and she is from Minnesota. T Like Tom, however, remains a mystery.
Posture Clinic was a success and another very entertaining one. We had two guys, one from Australia and one from Las Vegas. We were paired this time with Adrienne’s group, so I had moral support as well (they switch the pairings every day). I waited for a few people to go, including Adrienne, who was fabulous as always – being a teacher is such a helpful background for this stuff – and then I got my reluctant butt up there. I knew I knew the words and, although my official homework was to smile more, my personal homework was to get over myself, forget about everyone in the room staring at me and just spit it out. The teachers’ focus in this one was a bit different, much less dialogue-based and much more get-them-in and get-them-out based. That is hard for me, as I tend to want to be a perfectionist on the words and am less able to ad lib and think on my feet. It worked out, however, as I got to the end of the posture with them saying “Faster! Louder!” and just went to the “…leg up, leg up, leg up and stretch and stretch and stretch!” which is what they were trying to get us to do. They said I was OK, just needed to relax more (SURPRISE). They were very helpful with tips on avoiding the “White Room” which is their term for when your mind goes to that spot devoid of anything at all – no words, no pictures, no anything. As I spend quite a lot of time in the White Room when I’m on stage, I tried to take everything they said in. The Las Vegas teacher was a total comedian as well, so the energy in the room was just awesome, lots of laughing, putting people at ease and good advice. As we were leaving, a rumor was gaining legs that there wouldn’t be a lecture that evening. I knew better as, with all the Recertification teachers there, it was prime time for a show.
At the 5:00 class, my next-door-mat neighbor was a very nice and funny gentleman from South Africa, a member of our Over 50 Club, who owns a scuba diving business there. He is in training because all the guys at his studio wanted a guy like them to teach. As we have to be on our mats about half an hour before class, we had a good amount of time to compare notes and laugh about the goings-on. When class started, it was hot, hot, hot. People were dropping like flies and several were carried out. At one point, Bikram told people if they weren’t feeling good, they should step out for a minute and at least 40 people must have gotten up and walked out – it was a mass exodus. The back of the room isn’t quite as hot as the front so, although it was warm, we were OK. At the end of his classes, Bikram likes to put on his CD and sing along to one of his songs. As I cannot possibly describe the songs and I really want all of you to experience them first hand, I am going to buy the CD and play them for you at the end of class when I teach. I just can’t think of any words to do it justice. When they announced that sign in would be at 8:30 and lecture was at 9:00, you could feel the internal groans of pain from the rumor-believers. My South African friend and I just smiled.
And the lecture didn’t disappoint. A few pearls:
1) “You gain 16 days of longevity for every 1 hour of yoga practice.” Bikram said we screw around so much in class that one Bikram class only counts for 1 hour.
2) “Yogis are evergreen. We do not age like normal people.”
3) “Old Indian yogi come to see me. I want to see him but his breath like 100 donkeys farting so I send him away.”
4) He has helped avoid surgey for and saved the careers of: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John McEnroe, Wayne Gretsky, and Dan Marino.
5) “Why 26 postures? Ever hear of A to Z? This yoga fix your body A to Z.”
I got to talk to Chris during the break, which was great. As he’s been through it, he had his own insights into The Process.
Ah, and then the movie. It was our favorite one with, literally, 96 parts. Bikram had them fast forward through the boring parts tonight (obviously, we weren’t allowed to vote on which those were). He told us we only had to watch until the main character killed his uncle (I can’t even begin to explain this plot), which would have been around 1:15. Once that happened, everyone started packing up to go but Bikram decided we should see the next few scenes to see if anything else interesting happened. About 45 minutes later, nothing had yet, and he said we could hold it there. People literally lie down on the floor under the chairs and go to sleep in these marathons. I would, too, but am afraid of getting stepped on- it’s dark in there, plus I’m not too sure about the state of the carpet in that tent. So, I just do the head bob against my little neck pillow and try not to hurt anything sitting locked into our upright chairs. Zombie walk back to the hotel, in bed at 2:30, looking forward to the 6:30 alarm!
05-15-2010 Day 29
Good class this morning, taught by Nurse Lauren, although it was a hot one. She owns a studio in Vancouver Island, along with her daughter and husband. She is also beautiful and looks about 20 years younger than she is. Her voice and pace were exactly what everyone needed today, as we’re all feeling our string of consecutive late evenings. Unfortunately, we lose her on Monday when she returns home.
We relaxed in the jacuzzi at the spa for a bit after class, trying to soothe and smooth the week’s troubles away. It’s also nice to clean up in their facilities and feel like a real person for a while. We went to brunch afterward, actually looking like normal people for once! And the gift of an unhurried meal is always so very, very precious these days. No desssert for me for a while – all this sitting has me with several extra pounds, despite the 11 classes per week!
Back to studying, studying, studying. I need to get four postures good and solid before the week starts as I’ve got a feeling that, now Antomy is over, we’re going to go into double Posture Clinics this week. That means two sessions totalling 6-7 hours per day so we’ll be burning through them pretty quickly. That also means lots of time looking at myself doing the postures in the mirror, line by line. We have the Anatomy test on Monday, which we found out yesterday is all-encompasing – the old stuff and all the new stuff as well. This means skeletal, nervous, musular, cardio-vascular, respiratory, endocrine, digestive, and urinary systems. Sheesh, maybe I should have waited to employ the Ear to Table Procrastinating Technique.
Adrienne and I met up again at the end of the day out by the pool. It’s such a lovely time of day out there, much more peaceful, softer rock coming from the poolside night club, softer breeze and softer heat. You also see tons of other trainees studying various things who stop by to chat for a minute. It all would have been so very much nicer had we not been poring over our Anatomy notes but heck, you can’t have everything.
The most beautiful moment of the week is about to arrive: NOT setting the alarm clock!
05-16-2010 Day 30
Day 30! Wow, 30 days. 30 days. 30 days. Yesterday, I said to Adrienne, “At least we don’t have to go shopping and can spend the whole weekend studying.” I paused for a minute and shuddered. “Did I just say that?!” Frightening!
Sundays are just plain awesome. Nice long sleep, reciting dialogue in bed then lots of time to memorize the postures in the mirror. Joined Adrienne for a relaxed brunch, then back to the shade at the pool patio to study Anatomy, all parts. We’re getting most of the answers, so I think I’ll do well on the test. It’s nice to be in the relatively fresh air, out of the room and the smokey lobby for a while. It’s also quite fun to watch all of the goings on, and the little relationships forming among the younger trainees, despite Bikram’s stated rules: “No touchy, no huggy, no kissy, no … (you know where this is going).” When we finished, we practiced Separate Leg Stretching and then Triangle. As I was reciting and Adrienne was demonstrating, Bikram came out of the Spa and was standing directly behind me. Needless to say, it was a tiny bit distracting so poor Adrienne was down in Triangle for a good long time while I’m searching for words. Bikram finished his conversation and walked by Adrienne and said “Get your butt down there!” then patted her on the shoulder and smiled. I think I have both postures down sufficiently to go into the week. Tonight, before I get to go to bed, I have to learn Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and Tree, at least well enough so I can work them up if I have to.
I have some War Wound pictures and will post them if Coach decides they are not too off-putting. Maybe I can code them on the blog for the less sensitive so they won’t ruin anyone’s lunch! Actually, the ear is looking quite normal and the bruise is just plain colorful at this point. I tried earrings this weekend and can still get in 6 of the 9 so I only lost the top 3 holes. They were, unfortunately, the most painful to have done and took the longest to heal, so it’s highly unlikely I’ll be redoing them. The end of an era!
Sunday evenings are the toughest as that is our family dinner night back home. Consolation is in the fact that this is Hump Week (not in the above-mentioned Bikram sense) and once done, we are rounding third for the run home! Off to memorize more dialogue so I can sleep on it and it will stick in my brain – and hopefully keep me out of the dreaded White Room!
05-17-2010 Day 31
Yes, the lovely stiff-muscle class of a Monday morning. It always feels like I’ve never done a Bikram class in my life at the beginning. At least it was warm today, not really hot, but a good temp. Jim from CA taught and seemed to be enjoying keeping us in certain postures for particularly long periods of time, always so appreciated by the troops. He did tell the real story of Bikram, however, which was interesting. Basically, when Bikram was 17, he was in a weight-lifting competition in India. He was jerking 360+/- and the floor collapsed. His spotters were not in place and the barbell shredded his kneecap. All the doctors he saw in India and Europe said he’d never walk again and the leg should be amputated. He was stuck in a wheelchair, and went to a big bridge in India and was going to jump (he can’t swim). His guru sent his son, Bikram’s best friend, to go and get him. His guru then put Bikram into yoga training for 16 hours a day. You see the result – Bikram is a multiple world champ and says he has to actually think about which knee it was.
We had our Anatomy exam, and then a treat: Dr. Preddy, our very favorite and highly entertaining ER Doc and Anatomy teacher, came back for a guest appearance lecture. He went over the answers with us (I think I only got 1-2 wrong out of 70 so YAY) and then took questions. The first request was for more stories from the ER so it was extremely fun, especially after the pressure of the exam was over. A few pieces I thought you might find entertaining:
1) If you get hit by lightening, something happens to the water content in the fiber of your clothes which makes them blow completely off your body. So, not only do you get electrified, you are also butt naked. For some reason, I found that highly amusing.
2) The ER docs have a thing they call the “Tattoo to Tooth Ratio.” If you have more tattoos than teeth, you are probably not a contributing member of society. You also are probably immortal, because these are the guys who get shot or stabbed 9 different times and never die. Under the “Nice Guy Rule”, it’s the upstanding father of three who catches the stay bullet right to the chest.
3) Dr. P said Bikram Yoga (which he just started practicing with us last week) is the only form of exercise that gets your heart rate up like crazy with zero impact. Swimming might also qualify if you are NOT a good swimmer – for good swimmers, there isn’t enought of a workout. He said you can be “standing with your toes on the line” and have a heart rate over 130. Good stuff!
The 5:00 class was pretty hot and Bikram was pretty mellow to begin with. Then, he was irritated at our pathetic Balancing Stick Pose so we got to do an extra set – fun is. I tried to back off the Ibuprofin today which was not, in hindsight, a particularly good idea. Good news, however: the new nurse is going to take out my stitches so I don’t have to trek back to the hospital. She does want to keep them in for a few more days, though.
Posture Clinic has been turned into a late-night lecture. So, I don’t have to kill myself memorizing and we got to have a peaceful dinner, but who knows when I’ll get to go to bed (I’m writing this before I leave).
If I have time, I’ll upload the War Wound pictures tonight, otherwise, they’ll have to wait for tomorrow. Until later!
05-18-2010 Day 32
It’s midnight and we just got in from Posture Clinic. While that sounds rough, it’s actually very exciting because we are not still sitting and watching that crazy movie that never ends again, as we did last night (until 2:45 am). Prior to the movie, Bikram took random questions from the crowd. I am now in posession of the “No Green” story! Bikram explained that Indian people are very superstitious. The color green represents Nature to them, and it is also one of the colors of their national flag. As it is a powerful, outside color, one does not wear it or paint your house with it or anything else. His guru’s first son was 13 and had on a green shirt that someone had sent him. He and a friend were going to a special show under what sounded like a big-top tent. His mother told him not to wear it as it was bad luck and that his father, who was in the show, would be angry. The boy insisted and the mother gave in. The tent caught fire from the fireworks and, although the boy was OK at first, he went back in for his friend and ended up being killed. So, the guru says No Green, as does Bikram.
Morning class was with Terri from MA and she was just awesome. Crisp, efficient, yet friendly and encouraging, just the right mix. I rushed off to the afternoon Posture Clinic after a quick lunch in the room. It was a good Clinic, I got through Standing Separate Leg Stretching without a hitch and these teachers (one was the new nurse) actually liked my delivery, said it was “meditative”. I’ll take that. They only made me go out in the hall to yell the last paragraph so I got off light. When they told me what I had to do, I hung my head and they asked if I’d been made to do this already and I pretended to trudge out there and gave a good Eeyore sigh which made everyone laugh. Another one done!
Back to the 5:00 class with Bikram who entered in a not-so-happy mood. You just steel yourself for a tough one and, as it was pretty hot to begin with, we knew it was going to be a long afternoon. The highlight was actually when he brought two people on stage, one to demonstrate the correct way to do the second part of Awkward, and the second, who is the current world champion, Brandi (who also happens to be the daughter of our Physician’s Assistant, Liz). Brandi touched the floor with her fingertips in the Backbending part of Half Moon. I saw it with my own eyes – she literally bent over double and touched the floor. Crazy. That was pretty much it for the happy stuff, other than that we didn’t really meet his expectations today (to put it as nicely as I possibly can). They then announced that we would have a second Posture Clinic and then a movie. Ugh. That meant mad studying over a quick dinner because Triangle was now next up, as well as a possible late evening again.
I was getting ready to leap to my death, I mean get up to deliver Triangle, when the new nurse popped into the room (there are over 40 people in these things) and said, “Laurie Krause? It’s time to get your stitches out!” Woo hoo, a reprieve from the Powers That Be! Little did I know that the procedure was to be executed in the bathroom in about 15 minutes and that it would HURT LIKE CRAZY, wow, after which I was to be sent back to the wolves. Apparently, my skin had grown over several of the exterior stitches so it wasn’t the quick and easy process I’d been promised. I was still determined to get Triangle over with tonight, so I waited until my ear stopped screaming and got into the box. This teacher (from TX) wanted us to get up and say something about ourselves before we started, so I said, “My name is Laurie and I just got my stitches out and MAN did that hurt.” which everyone appreciated (most people were giving their horoscope signs). Not a posture to write home about (oh, wait, that’s what I’m doing…), as I visited the White Room several times, but it was late and I just wanted to be done. My homework is to yell the next posture in someone’s face for practice so that the regular Posture Clinic will seem like a cakewalk. OK. Then the best news: No Movie! Yay!
Having trouble uploading pictures so I’m afraid that will have to wait until I have some more time. Good night! Tomorrow is Hump Day in Hump Week – it’s all downhill from there!
05-19-2010 Day 33
So we are now officially half way done! It feels like I’ve been here a very long time, so it’s nice to reach this milestone.
Morning class was very hot and I was very low in the energy department. I survived the standing series intact but found myself slogging through the floor series like a zombie. The teacher had a very high-pitched, nasally voice and the sound system was way too loud so it was a bit painful on the old eardrums as well. Lots of folks left class and several were escorted out by the nurses and teachers, so at least I hung in. All you have to do is stay in the room, like the tee shirt says!
Posture Clinic was fun as we had Diane as our lead teacher. She is just such a blast and so funny, direct and helpful all at the same time. I didn’t have to get up because so many people were left to do Triangle, which I had thankfully done the previous evening. Jen from Glastonbury did a fantastic job on her Triangle and, during the review, she said that she could hear Richard’s voice through the whole thing, especially the “Natural…..Human…Traction!!!” part (anyone who has taken his class knows exactly what I’m talking about!). Diane appreciated that as well.
The 5:00 class was even hotter and I was even more exhausted by the time Tree and Toe came around. I am going to have to adjust my breakfast and lunch-time intake to try to get some more power, I guess. We’ve been going to the buffet for dinner lately as we need the lunch break to study for Posture Clinics. It’s hard to get all this stuff down right as the schedule is a moving target. Brandi, the International Bikram Champ was the teacher and, although high energy and good dialogue, she really, really neded to just step away from the microphone. Holy crap, I thought my eardrums were bleeding, it felt like I had just been at a 3-hour head-banging concert right under the speakers. So much for the moving meditation.
Our evening lecture was a complete treat, as Diane was our speaker! She spoke about the necessity of using the dialogue as it’s been written, just as you’d use a prescription from a doctor because it works. She also talked for a while about the various clients she had seen healed by Bikram, one of whom is Terri from MA. Terri told her own story, how she had suffered a spinal chord injury and literally couldn’t move her neck for 12 YEARS. She was also a pack-a-day smoker. Her sister brought her to Diane’s studio and the rest is history. This explains her very kind approach to everyone – she’s been there. Diane then took questions from the crowd and we had a sort-of impromptu Posture Clinic (like the ones at home, not like the ones we have here). Lots of great questions, lots of great interpretations from Diane. She will always refer back to the dialogue and state the applicable line, which answers about 95% of the questions people have about postures. One big distinction she talked about tonight was the fact that there is no ‘tucking’ of your butt or pelvis in any posture. “Hips forward” is very different from tucking your butt in or rotating your pelvis, and it has a lot to do with the natural curve of your spine. Basically, if it’s not in the dialogue, you don’t do it. Lots of good stuff!
OK, here’s the gross stuff so if this kind of thing makes your stomach turn, please stop here!
And here is the infamous ear! As you can see, it’s all patched up and looking very ear-like. The stitches are also now gone.
That’s it for now, these are taking forever to upload and I am headed for my favorite prone position. One more done!
05-20-2010 Day 34
It seems that they have figured out how to get the room hot. The thermometer in this morning’s class rang in at 125 and the misters were rocking. Our teacher was Mike from Chicago, who had a nice, peaceful class that was very dialogue-focused. Lots of folks being assisted out of the room, and lots leaving on their own feet as well. I did OK through most of the standing series, and then zombied through the floor series. We decided to get brunch afterward to see if that would help, which it did, after a few minutes of sitting in our booth, mechanically eating as much as we could as fast as we could. I had a good bead on Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee so felt pretty good about going to the Posture Clinic at noon.
And it went well. I inadvertently discovered a great new strategy – deliver it right before the break. I had all the words, didn’t visit the White Room even one time, and all they said was “projection” and let everyone go for the break. It works! Mike was our lead teacher and, in a similar direction that most of the Clinics have been taking lately, they didn’t correct anyone’s words, just their delivery. That’s a challenge for me as it means leave the dialogue perfection behind, and just let it fly out in some semblance of order. In any event, another one complete and on to memorizing Tree. There’s a nasty rumor running around that they may make us do Tree and Toe together, but so far that is unverified. If so, that would make it the longest one (together) to get done. Yikes.
An Oh My God hot class at 5:00. The thermometer boiled its way up to a steamy 130 in the back of the room, which is the coolest part by about 10 to 15 degrees. People were stopping, dropping and rolling in droves, as well as flying out of the room. One gal we talked to said there were at least 30 people outside at any given point during the class. I had to call the teachers for my mat neighbor, who didn’t look so good. I asked her if she were OK and she said she was spinning, should she leave? I told her to wait for help as I didn’t think walking and spinning was a very effective combination for a quick exit. I made it through, and did all the postures, albeit not in any kind of way you’d want anyone to watch. I came out of a few of them early and couldn’t go back in the first set of Camel (just trying to stay conscious for a few extra minutes). I have never sweat where there was a constant waterfall before. Not a drip, drip, drip, I’m talking Niagra Falls here. My finger tips looked like I’d been in a hot bath for 90 minutes – which I kind of was. You walk out of that kind of class like a dishrag ready for the garbage, I’ll tell you. Luckily, Diane was the teacher so it was awesome to listen to. She really is the local rock star – she gets a huge, standing ovation no matter what she does or says. People follow her everywhere and hang on her every word. She is just Diane through it all, however, which is so very cool. An example – normally, in our evening lectures, there is a constant stream of people leaving for the bathroom, or just to escape the tent and the chairs for a minute. The door never stops opening and closing, people back and forth all night long. Last night, when Diane spoke, it didn’t open once for the whole time.
We hobbled back to our rooms, and I took a very long shower, then memorized Tree. You get a process down to memorize stuff quickly here, it’s a matter of survival. Back to the lecture tent to listen to our new nurse give the emergency care portion of the CPR class. Interesting stuff and important information but at midnight, there’s just not a whole lot of retention going on in there. At least, and for which I am so very thankful, it ended there and we got to go back to our rooms.
05-21-2010 Day 35
Much more tolerable heat in this morning’s class, although the teacher (gal from Chicago) had a very high-pitched perky voice and the volume was way past 11 (little ‘Spinal Tap’ reference there). It was good to be able to have a relatively ‘normal’ class, where I could do all the postures without the fear of an untimely death.
After a bit more relaxed brunch (Adrienne’s group had Posture Clinic but she was ready, as usual!), and a long shower and dialogue studying, I headed off to our big-top CPR training. About half of the 360 teacher trainees (the other half went in the evening) were split into groups and we learned how to assist people who are choking, unconscious and choking, and, well, basically dead (CPR). It’s fantastic stuff to know and so very important in our biz. As they like to say here, the heat won’t kill anyone, it’s what people bring into the class with them that might catch up with them. Usually, it’s due to under-hydrating, not eating enough or properly, or a pre-existing medical condition that people may or may not be aware of. I’m happy to have the certification to be able to know what to do in an emergency no matter where I am.
The 5:00 class was with a past Bikram Champ from CA who was one of those ‘do more, push harder, don’t move until I give the command, don’t leave the room unless you’re dead, don’t drink water unless I tell you’ kind of teachers. That’s always interesting. Luckily, the wind was way up this afternoon so it cooled off the tent and the temperature in there was very manageable. I actually felt like I had a real class – was able to do everything, push myself a little without worying about hurting something, and get a really good workout.
More studying over the dinner break and then off to Posture Clinic from 9:00 to 11:30 pm. The good news? We had Diane again! Several other teachers were with her and they were all also funny and helpful. The bad news? The rumor about having to do Tree and Toe together were true. Once we finished Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, so few people were ready to go next that Diane held a mini-Posture Clinic (like the home ones) and people just fired questions about the postures. It was awesome, she is so, so, knowledgeable and so direct and funny. People just adore her. A few folks got up to do Tree and Toe after that, and I actually would have gone to get it over with but we ran out of time.
This is (from left to right) Susanna from Canada via Switzerland via Germany, Jan from Australia, me (duh) and Hye from CA via Korea. Susanna is just classically gorgeous and very funny. Jan is such fun to be with and has that great Aussie accent. She is also 66 years old and kicks my butt in class every day. Hye is just great, so kind and sweet. Posture Clinics would be absolute hell without them, I am so very lucky to have such an awesome ‘family’ to live through this with.
One of our ‘family’ stories: one of the guys in our group, who happens to have shared his 50th with me this year in February, has really been struggling with the dialogue. He studies and studies, knows the posture cold and then gets up in the box and completely freezes. He makes my White Room look like an Encyclopedia Britannica. He has tried to quit and go home several time, only to be talked off the ledge by many of us. I have been making him put the book down and look at, even touch, the bodies he’s practicing with. Tonight, he said the whole Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee without one break! The whole room erupted and we gave him a standing O. Lots of tears to go around as well, as this was such a hard-fought victory. It truly becomes very much like a family-away-from-home.
Saturday class tomorrow so up a half-hour earlier than usual – woo hoo! Another Bikram Yoga class to look forward to upon waking. Enjoy your day!
05-22-2010 Day 36
Very nice class this morning with Janelle, one of the staff members. Very dialogue specific and bright without being cheerleadery. It was relatively cool in the tent due to the high winds but was warm enough to do the postures.
It is our Spa After Class Day so off we went to the lovely, serene Spa world of the normal people. I almost feel like an uninvited poor relative as we slink in with our smelly yoga clothes and hot yoga hair (you ALL know the look I’m talking about!). Once in the warm, healing tub, however, I cease to care. Nice, big showers with flowery body stuff and we walk out of there feeling human again. The best part is the unhurried brunch afterward as we can actually chew our food and taste it before we swallow.
Back up to my room where I got to talk to every member of my family for a long time, so wonderful. Then, Adrienne and I walked to the Strip to hit Walgreen’s for more supplies to keep us going. Richard has warned us that Week Six can be Anger Week so Adrienne decided that the only way to combat that particular potential problem is with chocolate. I, of course, had very little issue with her remedy so we stocked up. My supply probably won’t make it past tomorrow.
This evening, Adrienne had a dinner with her Group and I went to a gathering of Those of Us Who Need To Project. One of our Group members is an opera singer who kindly offered to help us with some techniques. We were out on the patio near the pool so the first thing I had to get over was screeching all these weird sounds in a group (of all women, of course) in front of crowds of people. One thing she showed us that actually seems to work very well (don’t worry, Richard, not the screeching) is to let your belly go loose, then take a deep, low breath into your abdomen. Then, you slowly push in your abdominal muscles as you let the breath out and while speaking as loudly as you can. It really gives depth and strength to your voice. The other gals in our group said it was the loudest they’d ever heard me, although I think my children would beg to differ. Now, my challenge is to concentrate on doing this while at the same time keeping the dialogue from flying out of my skull like the evil monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. One can only try – what do we always say? “Do the best you can with the body (brain) you have today.” Let’s hope it’s a good brain day by Monday!
Here is what it looks like when you teach hundreds of people CPR at the same time. It’s also a good loo
k inside the tent where we practice (again, and again, and again and…):
No heat this morning and it was very nippy outside as well. Rajashree was back so it was nice to have a different voice in class. She just finished a tour of Europe, speaking in various countries. We also got to have her for the afternoon lecture, where she went over the Science of Yoga – interesting stuff, especially the studies that have been done on the benefits of Bikram Yoga for cancer patients. It’s been shown to drastically improve their quality of life as well as lessening the effects of chemo and increasing their longevity. The study is supposed to be published shortly.
The 5:00 class with Bikram, who is also back today, was a scary one. I was way, way too close to the podium for comfort, and he was in a singling-out kind of mood. I’ll tell you, I don’t think I’ve done any better since I got here! Fear can motivate you for sure. Lots of the podium-huggers got a facefull of it this evening, some of it highly amusing. He told one guy that if he sucked in his stomach more, he would soon lose his 14-month pregnancy. I can’t really repeat most of what else he said, but, trust me, it makes for an entertaining class.
Posture Clinic was a good one. I delivered Tree and Toe very uneventfully, which is my mission. I only got that I needed to smile more and “have more fun with it”. I’ll have a lot more fun with it when there aren’t 40 people sitting there staring and five teachers sitting there judging. I did try our Opera Singer’s projection suggestions for a bit, and they seemed to work. When I’m concentrating on getting all the words out, however, everything else goes by the wayside. Another two postures done! Tomorrow it’s Wind Removing. The posture, that is.
Then the good news – after Posture Clinic ended at 11:00pm, we were to report to the lecture tent. Bikram spoke for a while about his travels to Harlem and then we watched all of the old clips of him, Rajashree and a host of celebrities on various talk shows from the 70’s and early 80’s. The first few were very fun as they were so young and the outfits he wore were just a scream. Rajashree was beautiful and about 20 years old. We saw Shirley Maclaine, Martin and Charlie Sheen, lots of Juliet Prowse. She credited Bikram for saving her back after all those years of dancing. Kareem was on several of them as well. Then, after the 6th or 7th, I finally fell into a semi-snooze until I heard him say we could go. Adrienne is excellent at getting seats by the door and we are both very good at grabbing our stuff and getting out of the tent before anyone else. I didn’t even put my things back in my bag, I just grabbed everything and ran. That way, you get to the elevators before the crowd and save over half an hour of waiting. Ah, the many, many new skills I’ve developed!
Good night and happy Tuesday!
05-25-2010 Day 39
It was definitely a day after a “lecture”, that’s for sure. Lots of fun waking up with such a good night’s sleep! Luckily, we had Diane this morning for class. My row assignment today was for 1-3 so, again, I was way too close to the front and the podium for my comfort zone. Made me work hard again, and I actually had a really good class given how tired I felt going in.
We studied dialogue, dialogue, dialogue over brunch, then rushed back to our rooms for the speed-shower, talk with the Coach and work on my mortgage files. Then, off to Posture Clinic, the Extended Version (the afternoon ones run from 12:30 to 4:00). We had Misha, a Traveling Teacher, who had good feedback and was very kind to all. Including me, who, as usual, was made to go out in the hallway and yell the second part of Wind Removing. The only issue with that is that I’m finally getting to where I study the bodies to cue me, and you can’t see them from the hallway. Homework? Project and relax. Have fun with it. OK. Our family member who was previously dialogue-challenged had another awesome day with Tree and Toe. I demonstrated for him and tried to wiggle my toes or point to my hip when he got a little stuck but he really didn’t need the cues. He has definitely crossed over!
There was a rumor running all day that today we were supposed to do a Triple – have a third class thrown in. I didn’t really believe it, but people were showing up to the 5:00 class with literally coolers full of water and drinks. Manali (Bikram’s Exec Assistant) tried to announce that we’d have another class at 7:00pm but then said sign-in for Posture Clinic would be at 8:30 so there was no way they could fit another class in. People still believed her, however, as there were questions galore later on.
Class was BRUTAL, probably my worst one here. It was over 130 degrees in the front, and just dripping from the tent ceiling with moisture. Misha was the teacher and she was really excellent, but the heat and humidity got to me as it’s much hotter up in the front rows with no breeze to be found. I was dripping by the time we finished Pranayama. I did the standing series pretty well, but by the time Toe came up, I was seeing double. The whole floor series felt like walking through deep water with lead boots on, I just couldn’t hardly make myself move. I did everything, though, in a slow-motion kind of way, but I was determined not to give up and sit anything out. Might not be a great strategy but it’s kind of a personal goal to make it through all of these stinking classes with some semblance of dignity. We’ll see how long that lasts!
Dinner break was a whirlwind of trying to shower myself back to normal, calls and studying and then rushing off to Posture Clinic #2, the Shorter Version (this goes from 9:00pm to 11:30pm). It is a very long day of sitting on the hard floors when we have two of these in a day. I was almost ready with Cobra, although not looking forward to it. Luckily, we had about 6 Canadian teachers and studio owners in charge of it who were very good and very, very funny. We had a lot of people with Wind Removing still to do, and we didn’t even finish them all, so I got to sit and study and just enjoy their antics.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings! One thing we know is that we won’t know until we know.
05-26-2010 Day 40
Technical delay in the blog – our website was down so I couldn’t get on to write. It’s now dinner time on 5/27 and I have about 20 minutes so here’s the recap on yesterday’s festivities:
We had Mike from Chicago again for the morning class, which is a pleasure because he’s pretty dialogue-driven and no-nonsense. At least we know we’re getting out in close to the 90 minutes. He talked a bit about his studio, it sounds massive: 150-200 students per day, 45 classes per week, 18 teachers. Wow! I had a good class which was helpful after yesterday evening’s fiasco. You try to let go of the tough ones but they linger in the back of your mind, ready to leap out and scare you at any moment.
Oh, joy, they announced another Posture Clinic, Extended Version for the afternoon. I was OK about it as I had Cobra totally nailed, back and front. Except for the part when I get up to deliver it and the words leave like they were never anywhere in the same planet as my brain for even a minute. It’s amazing – I speak in public a lot, organize and speak at industry events with hundreds of people, taught that whole mortgage class, have had various staffs of over 100 reporting to me in my corporate life and had no problem. Yet, I get up in these stinking clinics and freeze like a deer in the headlights. It’s got to be the intense, pressure-cooker environment in these small rooms, with tension-filled bodies packed together and bunches of teachers waiting for you to speak. Might also be fatigue related. Whatever the cause, it is very, very frustrating. I finally did eke out enough of the dialogue to finish and then stood for the expert panel’s commentary (picture the American Idol judges, all giving their separate opinions of your performance and what they think you should do next to improve, as you stand alone on the stage awaiting your fate, with the audience in the background). We had a wonderful studio owner from Kansas who mentors a lot of new teachers, so she was very, very good and very kind. She asked if I were a perfectionist about the dialogue, to which I had to nod yes. She said I had to let that go and just get through the posture with whatever words would come, and stand closer to the bodies to see what they tell me to say next. I will give that a try, anything to avoid the dreaded White Room.
The 5:00 class with Bikram was very entertaining as he was in a good mood. He pulled a gal out of the pack to demonstrate Triangle on the podium because he said she was even better than him. Then, the poor thing gets up there and gets into the pose (for the 5th time, mind you) and he says that from the back it wasn’t that good and his was definitely better. Reason Number 2,754 why I stay as far away from the podium as I can physically get. I had a good class again, it was hot but tolerable. And then – oh, yes, the announcement comes that we get to have another Posture Clinic, The Evening Version. The joy of it all is almost overwhelming, as we faced a total today of 5 and 1/2 hours of sitting on the carpet. They don’t allow camp chairs or pillows so it’s a bit hard on the butt bone after a while (that’s an official term, I took Anatomy).
We had a traveling teacher who was very helpful this evening, which was good as many people stuggled with Cobra, especially the English as a Second Language folks. It’s an odd mix of words, it seems, Hye (my Korean friend) was trying to explain it to me. Heck, it’s an odd mix of words for those of us who speak English as our first language.
There are several flus and viruses running around here now, not surprisingly. We had two out of our Posture Clinic, both of whom were sent back to us in the standard Tough Love format. Two had the stomach virus and the other some kind of flu. I stayed as far away from them as I could. I don’t mean not to be compassionate, I’m just in survival mode and cannot afford to catch one of those evil things right now. We were all a little questioning of the decision to send them back to the group especially when we’re so packed together but, as they say, ours is not to wonder why. One of the stomach flu gals finally got up half way through and said she didn’t care if it was OK or not, she was going back to her room. I think we all were united in our silent applause.
Sadly, we are losing another one of our fold. A very nice guy in our group from Canada is calling it quits. He said he just had enough. He makes about 10 that we know of total at this point who have left training. Call me crazy but I don’t know what could happen that would make me leave without my Certificate – I’m way too cheap! All that time, money and energy, man, failure is not an option.
I came home and took all of the preventative measures and herbs I have with me to jump start my immune system. I even did a double Neti Pot. I am taking no chances!
05-27-2010 Day 41
It’s Thursday! The day when you just know you can make it through to Friday no matter what they throw at you. That also means we’re so very close to completing another week!
We had one of the Canadian studio owners as a teacher for the morning class. She was good, although pretty low-key so nice for a morning. Not too much heat either, which meant I could actually get a good practice in and do all the postures with some gusto.
Very nice surprise, as they announced that we’d have a lecture in the afternoon rather than a Posture Clinic. Massive cheers from everyone resounded through the tent. And it was a fascinating lecture, as well – Jon Burras spoke to us about Yoga and Fascia. It was just excellent, it made so many things make so much more sense. Basically, fascia surrounds every part of the body – the pieces and parts as well as the groupings of things. To demonstrate, he brought 5 people up to the stage, wrapped each of them in saran wrap and then wrapped them all together.
He discussed how Bikram Yoga stretches not only the muscles but the fascia as well, so we can live and age in a much healthier way. He also talked a lot about muscle and fascia memory, how we hold the memories of incidents and accidents, both physical and emotional, within the fascia, and how an injury to one part can show up later in another part of the body. Very, very cool stuff. His website is at www.jonburras.com and he’s got a lot of his articles online.
And an even COOLER surprise: not only did I get my survival package from Richard (my favorite tea, Ultima electrolytes and Pure bars – THANK YOU!!) I also got a lovely care package from Amy! She must have read my mind as there were lots of great things in there, especially peanut M&M’s, as well as a very sweet card. THANK YOU, AMY! You are awesome.
The 5:00 class was incredible – the guy in the story that Dave told (Joseph Encinia – the kid who had the arthritis and worked his way up to becoming a World Champ, I wrote about him a while ago) was the teacher! First, he’s adorable, has the biggest, sweetest smile you have ever seen, and he is just full of energy. Even though he really kept almost strictly to the dialogue, the words just came alive. He was so, well, joyous in his delivery, it just made you feel lucky to be there. And believe me, after all of these yoga classes, it takes something special to make me feel lucky to be in that tent.
Yeah, I can do that, too.
We got another welcome break from Posture Clinics tonight, as Jon Burras lectured for the 9:00 to 11:00 slot and finished up his talk on the Heart, Energy, the Mind and Bones. He has some very unconventional views but I loved his approach – he said right up front that these were his opinions and he wasn’t trying to change anyone’s mind, he was just presenting another viewpoint. As I tended to agree with most of the viewpoints he held, I found it fascinating. Several folks took issue with him on a few items, mostly in the addiction department, but everyone was civil.
And then, we got our late night Bikram lecture. He was in a chatty mood so we were privileged to hear about all kinds of things, including dinner, shopping, cars and traveling. The very best thing, however, is that he is giving us Monday off!! Everyone looked around like we expected this to be some sort of cruel joke but he was serious – all we have to do is take the morning class and we’re free! Holy crap, an extra day! We think it’s one of two things, either we’re ahead of where we should be on the Postures, or with all the folks leaving, they want to take the pressure off a little. Either way, I’ll take it and I am thrilled. From my perspective, it means I can learn the next 4-5 Postures slower and actually relax for a few minutes this weekend.
He then called Joseph up to demonstrate some of the Advanced Postures, which was a sight to see. He did the Posture (Scorpion) in the picture and several other outrageous ones. Then, the 17-year-old Wiz Kid from Baltimore came up and did a few as well. I will post some pictures of them tomorrow.
We didn’t have to stay too late – I got back here at about 2:15 am. You know you’ve crossed over when 2:15 am isn’t that bad.
05-28-2010 Day 42
We had our morning class with the teacher from Kansas. She was pretty mellow, nice for a morning. Luckily, it was a very windy morning so the heat wasn’t too bad as my Group was assigned the dreaded rows 1 and 2 today (where the heat can roast a chicken – or a Teacher Trainee – in 90 minutes). One thing she said was quite good, when she was telling someone not to use their hand towel in Wind Removing Pose. She said that part of the posture is strengthening your hands in the grip so that they will work well for you for the rest of your life. She also said that yoga is for your life, not for the posture. So not trying 100% the right way in any posture, or using any prop to avoid trying the right way, or skipping postures and doing your own stretching, means that you are practicing for the posture’s benefit and not for your benefit. Excellent way to make it clear why we do Bikram the way we do – only what your body can do on this day.
Prior to class, Manali gives us our direction for the next segment of our day, and, as we suspected, it was the treasured Posture Clinic, Extended Version. At least I had not only Locust ready, I had a strategy. When I practiced, I wouldn’t let myself stress over the exact words so I would hopefully not get stuck when searching for them. After brunch, a shower and my daily coaching session, I was locked and loaded for Posture Clinic.
We were very surprised, as well as a bit intimidated, when Joseph and one of the crazy Canadians walked in, along with two gals. We’d not heard anything about Joseph’s manner in the Clinics, although given his extremely open and warm demeanor, my thoughts were that he would at least be kind. The Canadian guy is just a scream, he totally says what he’s thinking and you’re never quite sure what might come out. He is a complete ball of energy waiting to explode. Given all this, I waited for a good number of folks to go, to test the waters and see what direction the comments were headed. I had almost psyched myself out when there was a lull in the queue of people from our Group. Not wanting to carry the posture over into the weekend, I just found myself getting up. I stood and delivered, not verbatim by any stretch, but I accomplished my own goal of not getting stuck anywhere. Obviously, volume and inflection are sacrificed in these situations, so I don’t expect that the teachers will be thrilled with the delivery. Luckily, one of the gals was in our Clinic yesterday when I totally froze so the bar was set really, really low and she thought I was great! Compared to yesterday, it actually was but that ain’t saying much. Whatever – it’s over and I get to move on. I talked to Joseph after the Clinic as he was in Richard’s training, so he sent his greetings.
The wind had completely died down and when I walked into the tent for the 5:00 class it was like walking into a blast furnace. I decided to rebel against the line assignments and boldly plunked my mat down in the back row, in a move of total and complete self preservation. It was highly unlikely that any of the teachers would remember what group I was in, let alone be bothered to check to see what row I was supposed to be in. Yup, that’s me, bucking the system in big, huge ways. We had a very commanding teacher, a gal from Texas, who gave a good class. My shoulder is extremely locked up today, and my lower back is pretty screamy due to all the sitting around on the floor so it was a bit rough but not impossible.
The Good News was no lecture tonight and, you guessed it, the Bad News was yet another 2 and 1/2 hours of sitting on the floor in the Posture Clinic. Even more unsettling was the fact that I had no more Postures up my sleeve so I hoped I wouldn’t have to go up. Talked to Coach after class and he convinced me to just learn it before I went and wing it to get another one done before the weekend. OK, OK, OK! Actually, Full Locust is pretty easy and I had it in a short period of time. I was hoping to employ the same tactic of getting the set up and important pieces out intact, and then floating through the rest of the “go up, more up, come up, leg up, everything up’s”.
We had a teacher from Corporate who was in the very first Teacher Training in 1994. The first thing she said was that their training was 12 weeks long, they had 3 classes per day and Bikram there 100% of the time so don’t complain to her about anything (I wonder if she also walked to Teacher Training barefoot in the snow uphill both ways?). This being a bit of a different form of introduction, I laid low for a while to see how the commentry would go. The other gal was from Richmond and just completed Training last fall. They actually ended up being quite helpful and fair. Half of our Group was hiding in the nooks, crannies and corners of the room, sound asleep. Once the rush of rock stars finished going, I decided to just get it over with so I went up, I did spit it out, and only skipped one small paragraph, so they just said to work on projection and inflection. I can do that, especially when I am not petrified. Oh, so good to have another one done! We were let out at 11:00 pm so a nice evening all around (in a Bikram Yoga Teacher Training relative kind of way, that is).
I wanted to get this poem to you, which Jon Burras read at his lecture yesterday. It so brilliantly speaks to so, so many things that we do in our lives. Even the way we practice our yoga is so much like this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, I know it’s going on our refrigerator as soon as I get home:
AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS
by Portia Nelson
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
05-29-2010 Day 43
Saturday! The end of another week! Everyone is talking about what a tough week it was – lots of breaking down and crying, several people giving up and going home, drama at every turn. Thank everything that I have Adrienne, who is as much of a drama-avoider as I am. So many people get swept up into the unending mini-made-for-TV-plots it’s actually an amusing spectator sport (think lots of “Oh My GOD”s with grown ups).
Good class this morning – I ended up against the side mirror and found out why these spots are so sought-after: there is a breeze coming out from underneath! Ah hah! I actually didn’t need it today as it was quite cool in there. We had a traveling teacher who was good and rousing, and I was able to do a lot more than my body was trying to convince me it could do when I crawled aching out of bed at 6:00 am. After class was Yearbook picture time. They took one shot of all of us together (in our sweaty best), and then we broke into our groups to come up with two picture ideas. We are lacking anyone in the creative arts in our group, so we had a bit of trouble in the originality division. Some of the groups were doing these fabulous human designs with people performing all different postures, converging in a beautiful spectacle of Bikram. Us? Well, we have this one hunky guy in our group, so all of us gals decided to lift him up and hold him in a prone, leaning-on-one-elbow position. Yeah, yeah, I know. What we lack in originality, we make up with silliness.
It is Spa Day, so we went there for a soak and a shower and then off to brunch. We realized that we have more money on our meal cards than days to spend it in so we’re going to have to step it up! Ah, such monumental problems we have to deal with! Frugality has its benefits. Back to our respective rooms for phone calls and then we decided to use our legs for a non-strectching activity and walk to the health food store for protein powders and a few other missing esentials. It’s a good hike over there but it was a gorgeous day and perfect for a walk. The woman who owns the store is very knowlegeable and helpful. She used to inhabit the wilds of interior Hawaii, living off the land. Very interesting character!
On the way home, we saw an interesting, albeit unassuming, mineral and gem shop with a geode the size of my son out front. Once inside, the place was massive, with every shape, size and type of rock, mineral and gemstone displayed. We had a great time wandering around in there, talking to the folks who own it. People love to make Adrienne talk, as that New Zealand accent is so distinctive and fun to listen to. We were standing in line once at the buffet and said hello to two nurses from New York who were behind us. They made her keep talking so they could listen to her. She walked away saying, “I feel like a performing seal.” I said, “Welcome to the USA.”
Back to the room to study dialogue and catch up on things. We then went out on the pool patio to practice the new postures out loud, which was so very hard given all of the distractions (including the bar band, singing Johnny Cash songs) but it was great for working on concentration. We sat and talked until dark. The weather is absolutely perfect in the evenings – warm with a gentle breeze, very comfortable. And a nice early night! I may actually turn on the TV for probably the second time since I’ve been here.
I promised some pictures, so here are a few:
Here is a Sea of Savasana, everyone’s favorite Posture. Diane actually said that this is the most important posture as, if you get this right, all of the others will come much more easily.
Here is Bikram in Full “Lock that knee, you idiot!” mode.
Well, off to bed and a few minutes of TV before I lose consciousness. Enjoy!
05-30-2010 Day 44
I can’t believe what a baby I’m turning into – it’s only 10:00 pm and my eyes are closing like the elevators do here on body parts. (Side story – you DO NOT stick your hand in a closing elevator door to make it re-open around this hotel. The door does NOT stop. A bit frightening, believe me!)
Glorious, glorious sleep! I tried to watch a movie last night and lasted 7 and 1/2 minutes so I got a ton of badly needed rest. Memorized more postures, as that is the mission of the long weekend, and then broke for brunch. This place is PACKED – the slot machines are ringing, the craps tables are rocking, the $100,000 poker room is full, the feather-bedecked cigarette girls are dancing around, the halls are jammed with families and children. Yes, children. I don’t know that Las Vegas would have made it to my personal Top One Hundred Places For A Family Vacation, but everyone’s different, I guess. There are also a lot of weddings here all the time – there is a chapel on the main floor (just down the hall from the slot machines, in case you want to further gamble with your future…). It’s kind of fun to see brides and grooms walking through the lobby, with bridesmaids dressed in colors not found in nature trailing behind. There is a lovely outdoor chapel near the pool area so you invariably walk by as some hopeful couple is earnestly professing their undying love. I’m telling you, Las Vegas is a whole different and quite alien world in my book.
Back to the room to study more dialogue, then our weekly walk to Walgreen’s for supplies. It was HOT out there today, burning, dry heat, the kind that makes you very thirsty as soon as you take your first few steps. Dr. Preddy said you don’t feel sweat here because it evaporates almost subcutaneaously. The forecast for the week is for most of the days to be over 100 degrees so I’m trying not to think about the afternoon classes in the tent. I’m going to employ all of the survival strategies I can – getting there early, grabbing a back row, getting close to the side mirrors, whatever it takes. At this point, to expire in some stinking hot class would be such a waste of all this effort!
Went back out to the pool patio in the evening to practice the dialogue with all the distractions and chat for a while. Early turn in as we do have class in the morning. At least, however, we have the rest of the day off – blessed, blessed free time, hooray! Enjoy your Memorial Day!
05-31-2010 Day 45
Day 45 and we have dropped into the teens left to go (19 more days to be exact!) Having started with 64 days to master, this alone seems like a huge accomplishment. It’s truly the start of the count downs: 19 more days, 15 1/2 more ‘school days’, 7 more postures, 31 more classes to survive (oh, man, I definitely shouldn’t have counted that one up…).
Class this morning was a good one for discussion. We had a traveling teacher, who also owns a studio out west. We were quite surprised as this same teacher reportedly spent a lot of time in a Posture Clinic Friday evening lecturing and giving lots of detailed advice on teaching. The class was, well, let’s call it uninspired. There was almost zero dialogue employed. The attitude was one of indifference at best. That, in combination with the usual Monday morning creaky and complaining joints made for a thought-provoking couple of hours. People left in droves, even though the heat was very reasonable. We’re not sure if it was due to kids dehydrating themselves at the pool all weekend, all of the flus going around, or simple disinterest in the class. Once again, we were reminded of the importance of trust in a class – that of the teacher instilling it in the students. We knew within 30 seconds of his beginning Pranayama that we were in for it – the pace was erratic, the sets were at least 17 in the first and probably more in the second (instead of the required 10). One immediately begins to struggle with: When do you push in the posture? How long do you hold it? When do you allow yourself to come out? This is in stark contrast to, say, Mike from Chicago, who recites the complete dialogue and practices spot-on timing. You don’t think in a class like that, you just do what you are told. And therein lies the peace of the class, the ability to hand oneself over to the moving meditation and allow the brain to rest. Three lessons learned. One: trust is paramount. Two: accurate timing is imperative. Three: even I could have taught that class this morning, probably better and definitely with more interest and passion. So, besides the fact that I couldn’t bend forward to any degree whatsoever, and everything hurt like I haven’t practiced in a month, it was a good class. A very good class and very important to have been a part of.
Spent the rest of the day in the room working on non-Teacher Training work and catching up on real life stuff. Nice to have the time to do that, and so rare. I missed a big family picnic yesterday, held by my Mom for my older brother and his new wife, I’m missing the end of the school year for my children, and I’m missing all of the spring and early summer gardens blooming, not to mention every day without my Soul Mate. I’m pretty good at setting these things aside most days, knowing the importance of the bigger picture, but I think they gave us too much time to think today! So I opened up that Blessed Book of Divine Dialogue and some peanut M&M’s and learned Camel just for the fun of it. That’ll take one’s mind off most anything.
One of us actually does the posture (poorly, mind you) on the chair as the other recites the dialogue. We do get some stares from the guests but there are so many of us out there at the same time doing and saying the same thing, it’s more normal than not. You can see my treasured Carla bag on my chair (thank you, Carla!!).
This is the entrance to the Spa with the massive hotel behind it.
Here is Command Central: my desk, studying chair, laptop and my best friend iNeed draped over the chair.
Here’s one of my favorite places, with all of my wonderful, wonderful cards on the left and my beautiful family next to the Evil Buzz Saw Alarm Clock on the right
This is the view from my window: You can see the Hilton sign on the left, the Riviera across the street and the gold building standing alone in the center is the Trump Casino. The mountains you see in the distance ring the whole city from every side.
And just because the Universe knew I needed a little pick-me-up, there was a fireworks display right outside my window tonight! Here it is:
Well, off we go into Week Seven. The countdown begins!
06-01-2010 Day 46
We sure started back with a bang today. Class in the morning was with a woman who teaches at Corporate, which meant not a lot of dialogue usage. Basically everyone we’ve had teach from Corporate does not use the dialogue, including Bikram himself. It was still a great class, however, as she had some very funny quips and stories of working with Bikram. She had a great quote: “Do what you can but do that piece, however tiny, 100% right. This is a practice, not a demonstration.” Although everyone was expecting a lecture today, they then announced that we were to report to Posture Clinics.
Quick brunch and shower and then off to the Posture Clinic room with my dialogue book and my tea. I had already done Full Locust so could sit out for a bit while the group finished that one. We had our teacher from this morning (same one from Friday night), a teacher from Chicago and one from New York City. Once Bow started, I waited for a while for the rock stars to clear. Then it’s a matter of timing who you go up after – someone who is very strong in voice and/or theatrical is not a good lead in to me, for instance. You have to be a little careful, however, as we alternate groups and you don’t know who the next two afterwards will be. Or, I could just get over all of this and get up when I’m ready, but what fun would that be? Prolonging the torture is part of the experience. In any event, timing or no, it was actually my very best posture to date. I was louder than I’ve been, I didn’t stumble on the words, and I got some inflection going as well. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come as my adrenals (I took Anatomy) can’t handle too much more of this perpetual and self-induced stress.
One interesting thing the teacher from Corporate said was that although she doesn’t use the dialogue, everything she does say comes from Bikram. She went to training in 1994 (she’s the one who had 3 classes a day, see Friday’s post for more details). Bikram himself has told us all that after you teach for a year he doesn’t care if you use the dialogue or not. Well, after all this, I for one will be using it!
Hot, hot, hot class tonight with Bikram teaching. He was in a good mood as he’d just signed some business deal. Lots of people down, however, and lots of people out of the room as well. He really dislikes short hair and several of the gals have shaved their heads here (it’s a look I briefly contemplated but I’m afraid it won’t grow back). He had quite a bit of fun with the bald ones today, being very creative in his musings over what really happened to them. After the class, the new thing folks do is lay their mats on the pavement and lay down to cool off, so when you come out of the tent, there are bodies everywhere. And, in another lovely surprise, another Posture Clinic was announced. I had a feeling that this might turn into a lecture after that so I packed for the long haul.
We were joined by the traveling teacher, the Chicago teacher, a teacher who is also a photographer and Robin, who owns the New Haven studio. We had several Bow’s to go so I was safe for a bit. As there was quite a bit of feedback, only a handful of Fixed Firms went before we were told to report directly to the lecture tent – do not pass Starbucks, do not stop in the rooms. I was glad I thought ahead as at least I had the Jelly Bellys Amy sent with me! While Bikram probably had things to share with us, at midnight, whatever it is just isn’t busting through the fog. I did enjoy looking up each kind of Jelly Belly and guessing it’s official flavor, though. I have also gotten to where I can literally go away to a happy place for quite a while before I start to fall asleep and jar myself awake. Don’t want the Sleep Police to come and tap me on the shoulder. We did luck out in that he let us go at about 1:30 am. Back to reality. Or at least the virtual reality of Teacher Training!
06-02-2010 Day 47
The heat is definitely on, in more ways than one. Class this morning was a very tough one – very, very hot and the teacher was not what one would consider inspiring. She yelled most of it and, although she is infamous in the Posture Clinics, going around to all of the rooms and doling out some tough criticism, she really didn’t employ a lot of the dialogue, nor any of the voice modulation suggestions. Whether it was the heat, the late night, the uninspired teaching or a combination of all three, at least a third of the class left the tent at one point or another. Several people were carried out semi-conscious and one poor woman crawled on all fours until the staff finally saw her (although all of us near her were calling for them). The teacher even yelled at us at the end, as people were getting up to go and she told us we had not been dismissed. Then she just told us to get out of there. Interesting. I slogged through the whole class, although there were many times where I was at the brink of falling over. I can’t really call it “practice” when the heat gets to a certain level, as my whole body just goes stupid. Didn’t sit out any of the postures, though! Another one done, and still alive.
We were told to report to the lecture tent, which was a nice break. The gentleman who spoke has written several books about science and spirituality so he was very interesting. His theories were based in quantum physics and he invented the laser they use for Lasik eye surgery. I was so tired after little sleep and a crazy class, however, I had a hard time staying awake. I’ll have to pick up the book as the topic was very intriguing. We were very surprised when he ended after an hour. The staff then announced that we were to report to – yes! Posture Clinics! I had to sprint back to the room as one cannot attend a Posture Clinic in a sundress. I wasn’t too concerned about going as I am very comfortable with Fixed Firm.
When our teachers walked in, however, the mood changed pretty quickly. It seems the lead teacher (who shall go unnamed) took quite an issue with our behavior in class this morning. She said she was embarrassed by how many people left the tent “just for some air and some Coolaid” and that we should never be leaving the tent unless we were about to die, that we were acting like ‘Week Two’. As she was quite strident and loud and long with her comments, it put a bit of a damper on anyone looking to jump up and give a good performance. Most of us tried to fade into the woodwork but enough brave souls got up and gave it a go. She made many of them re-do it with different commands and told our Russian group member to translate it and say it again in Russian. I was actually going to go up as a personal challenge but the time ran out. Not a happy day in Posture Clinic land.
All I could think of was that the teachers all had a meeting and everyone had gotten the same lecture. That made me just a little nervous about the upcoming 5:00 class as at the very least it was going to be absolutely roasting. Luckily, it seems it was her opinion alone, as no one else reported the same lecture in their Posture Clinics. Lucky us! As soon as he came into the tent, Bikram said it was very hot in there and that people needed to take care of themselves so leave if they needed to. Ah, the beauty of the mixed message! Class was ridiculously hot, beyond hot, bare feet on the coals hot, sweat like water from a garden hose. People dropped in Half Moon and didn’t get up again. At one point before the first set of Triangle, at least 1/2 the room was either down on the mats or out of the tent. Not me! I was up and doing the postures – not well and I came out of a lot of them early, but I did them all. I felt like I was spinning around the drain in the sink for most of it, though, just waiting to go all the way down. I was also doing the weaving thing when standing still, and had to take a wider stance at times so I could stay upright (Weebles Wobble but they don’t….). Bikram was in a fun mood and definitely kept those of us still standing at least entertained. As usual, a lot of it is body-part related and not quite suitable for a public blog! Wow, what a class.
We were given an extra half hour for dinner break, then had to report back to the lecture tent at 9:00 for sign in. The teacher from the morning got up to do the Bikram’s Not Here Yet Schtick and opened the floor for questions. One gentleman in the crowd very respectfully asked her about her class, and worded the question in a very non-threatening and non-judgmentlal way. She spent quite a bit of time explaining her methodology for how she taught and why she taught that way, as well as why she told us all to leave at the end. Several other members of the audience, who were not quite as careful or well-spoken as the first questioner, continued the discussion. It was a very odd thing, I have to say, a bit surreal. Bikram then came in and lectured about his theories on food. These begin with the premise that “the best food is no food” which is one of his regular mantras. It was interesting to hear him expound on that, although I did feel pretty bad for the heavier members of our class as he can be quite direct. And then… drumroll please… at 12:30 pm we got to see several more episodes of the Mahatmahatmahatmasomething movie (the movie that never ends). I use the term “see” very lightly as I had taken out my contacts, put on my neck pillow and settled in to try some upright sleeping techniques as soon as the lights went out. We did receive a gift, however, as when they went to change the disks, they couldn’t find the next one in line! Hooray! A reprieve! We were let out at 1:45 am. At least I’ll get a good couple of hours before we go back and start all over again. Good night!
06-03-2010 Day 48
So NOW is when the crazy heat starts! What fun. This morning was just as hot as the night before, with the similar scores of people leaving the tent trying to survive. The fun part was that it was Manali’s birthday and she taught the class! She gave an excellent, excellent class. Right on dialogue, kind and compassionate while still motivating you to do your best. Absolutely the perfect mix of push and encouragement. I was hoping that the teacher from yesterday was in the class but I don’t believe she attended. Manali was the epitome of what people were trying to tell the other teacher. Anyway, seems like this is the heat we are to get used to, which is unfortunate. I’m blacking out by Triangle, and have a very hard time recovering so am literally doing the postures blind. I still did all of them, continuing the streak, but it’s just nuts. I am going to have to figure out some sort of better mix of protein and electrolytes to try and keep myself in a better state for longer.
Quick brunch, then back to the room for phone calls and a shower. Off to Posture Clinic, still feeling good about delivering Fixed Firm – something about the dialogue for this pose is so completely straight forward and un-tricky for me. We were all a bit taken aback when the same gal from last night’s Clinic came in, with another teacher who just graduated last fall. Lots of raised eyebrows and silently mouthed “OH NO”‘s all around. I was so far beyond exhausted I just couldn’t even muster any nerves. Two late nights, four tough classes in a row are taking their toll, and I know there are many more to come. This afternoon, the teacher took some time to explain how she felt and why she felt it. She is very, very passionate about Bikram and the yoga, and was also quite upset about the community’s recent loss of a beloved senior techer, Jason. Today, her tone was much less that of lecturing children and much more of a discussion of her beliefs so it was much easier to take in. I let a few folks go up to test the waters and then stepped in to demonstrate for someone who couldn’t. That worked well because I did the posture several times and then just dragged myself up to the hot seat to deliver it. The exhaustion took over for the nerves and I felt relaxed and almost comfortable. The teacher asked me to be louder a few times during the delivery and even that didn’t make me lose the dialogue. She then made me re-do it, to “convince the students to do the posture”. She got down to demonstrate herself to pretend to be a recalcitrant student who I was to help into the posture. It was actually fun (did I just say that?) as I was able to go off the dialogue and feel like I was teaching instead of reciting. She liked my second time around and I am hoping this performance will stick in my brain and come out again really soon.
And then – the 5:00 class. The militant teachers obviously got to Bikram and told him to beat on us and beat on us he did. The heat was just insane, I was soaked and dripping just sitting on my mat waiting for class to start. The overall sense of dread was palpable in the tent and we told each other to just do our best and take care of ourselves, drop or leave if you need to. I still had no intentions of giving up or giving in but my resolve was definitely wavering. Bikram’s attitude was very different upon entering the room, and he started the class without the usual preamble. At the sight of the first person dropping, he went right after them, hollering to get up and finish class or they wouldn’t graduate. He continued this throughout the class, berating anyone who went down or tried to leave. He also took off after several people specifically about their practices. By the end of Triangle I could basically no longer see and was once again doing the postures blind. I lost my legs right out from under me and fell on my knees (luckily, relatively straight down) but, not wanting to miss the posture (or hear from Bikram), as soon as I felt them again I got back up and finished. The floor series was a blur but at least you don’t have to worry about falling over! Mark Curry, the comedian currently appearing at the Hilton, took his first class tonight. I can only imagine what his first impressions of the Bikram experience will be! At the end of the class, Bikram said it was the best one we’d ever done, mentally. I have got to get some kind of better regime going if this is to be the new normal heat. Everyone here is living on Pedialyte, which I’ve been avoiding due to the made-from-chemicals nature of the stuff, but the nurses are constantly pushing it. I may have to go that route. I’ll try to find some this weekend – it’s a hot commodity as the yogi’s have sold Las Vegas out of the stuff.
We shuffled mostly silently back to our rooms. I really wasn’t right until long after my shower and a forced small dinner. Back to the lecture tent to sign in at 9:00 pm where they had a celebration for Minali’s birthday with cake and cookies. It was one of those red cakes, full of wheat, dairy, white sugar and Red Dye #2 and I ate every bite. Today, I deserved some good junk! Bikram spoke for a while, I’m not really sure what about. We were then treated to another installmentof the Movie That Never Ends, although I didn’t see one scene. As soon as the lights went out, I had my neck pillow on and closed my eyes. Not much luck sleeping but we did end up lucky – Bikram had to catch a plane and we were let loose at only 12:15 am. I have to say I am actually nervous about tomorrow for the first time. One can always hope for a good wind storm!
06-04-2010 Day 49
A good day! All around, and such a relief to be able to write that (let alone live it). The morning class was as hot as we’d feared, but Adrienne gave me her strategy – you just go into the postures in slow motion and don’t push at all, no matter what they say. You still have a total workout as even moving that much in this level of heat gets your heart slamming against your chest and the sweat pouring off. I also doubled the protein stuff, increased the coconut juice and used a whole banana in my early morning breakfast drink. One of my best purchases here was this little $20 single-serving mini-blender, what a wonderful gadget. I’m sure my neighbors don’t like it as it ain’t quiet and I run it at 6:15 am!
We had a riot of a teacher, a studio owner from Paris, this morning, with a classic, almost cartoon French accent. It was just lovely to listen to and he is a total comedian as well. If anyone can get you to laugh out loud, several times, in a class under these conditions, they are professional. The funniest one was in Locust where the dialogue says, “Mouth on the towel.” He went on, in French, to talk about kissing the towel and loving your towel, and ended up singing several verses of that classic “Love to Love You, Baby”. We were dying (and not just from the heat this time!). He also recited several of the postures in French which, again, is such a treat and so easy on hot and tired ears. Adrienne had saved me a spot next to her in one of the coveted rows near the misters (you can’t get under them anymore as those spots are taken at like 3:00 in the morning – I don’t know how these people get their mats there, they must pay someone off in some sort of Bikram Bribe scheme). I matched my pace to hers and it worked – between the change in breakfast and the slower pace, I was able to survive the class, do all the postures and not black out for more than a few seconds. It was still a killer, though and most of us who were still standing staggered out of the tent onto the blistering heat of the pavement. I felt my sciatic nerve on my left side ping when dressing for class which was a bit scary and the last thing I need right now. So far, 90% of the time it’s fine and it’s only excruciating once in a while for a very short few seconds. I do think the class helped keep it from going too far.
We zombied to brunch and ate as much as we could in what we now call Mechanical Eating. You don’t feel like food, but you know you have to get it in you as this is the only chance you have all day to replenish from the morning and set up for the evening classes. We just sit, almost silently and chew, and chew, and chew. With my love of food, this is such a travesty! I don’t think I’m going to look at an egg for a very long time after I get home as I eat so many of them every day (quick, easy protein and other good stuff we need).
Off to Posture Clinic after the shower. Adrienne’s Group was with ours today which made it nice. Our lead teacher was Antonia from Corporate who was absolutely lovely. Kind, helpful and encouraging, with some good advice as well. The other three teachers didn’t say too much but were quite pleasant. The exhaustion seems to be working well for me as I delivered Half Tortoise without incident and with some volume and inflection. It’s a relief to know I can get up there without experiencing the utterly ridiculous levels of stress I’ve enjoyed for the past seven weeks. Sitting on the hard floor is not good for back issues, and definitely not good for sciatic nerve pingings.
And the 5:00 class. They either figured out how to adjust the heat or gave us a break. It was very, very hot but not killer hot like it’s been. The teacher was Lisa, a studio owner from San Antonio and she was exactly what everyone needed. She is a 5’2″ ball of exploding energy. Not easy at all, but reasonable. And definitely fun – on the first sit-up, it is her custom to have everyone yell “Yee Haw” instead of the double exhale. She also did the dialogue for Triangle (which is too long for the posture, we now know) as an auctioneer, in machine gun rapid fire. She kept everyone in the class and most people off their mats. Another testament to the fact that people will work twice as hard if they want to versus being forced or belittled into it. I only had three or four major spasms in the class so I think I’m getting off pretty light with the nerve thing. Great class and it ended just perfectly: she played my favorite Marley song, “Three Little Birds” (“Don’t worry about a thing”). This is the song that runs through my head in a never ending loop, all day, all through classes, all through Posture Clinics, as I walk around and even as I go to sleep. I started it when I got to Bradley to get on the plane here and it is my security blanket as well as one of my motivators to keep going. I used to play it for my kids really, really loud whenever they’d fight in the car. It was just so incredible to hear it blasted at the end of class, with 360 people singing along while in Savasana. She then played “Celebrate” so people were dancing round. I definitely did not have any dancing energy but at least I wasn’t totalled as I have been all week.
A very sweet and kind gal from Illinois, originally from CT, with whom I spoke every day, left Training yesterday. She had to come out of the hot classes several times over the past few days and I think she just had enough. I wish she would have stayed to see how much better today was but everyone has their own breaking point and it seems hers was breached. It must have been very bad to be leaving with only two weeks left.
We were told to report to Lecture at 8:30 pm in two pieces of good news: no Evening Posture Clinic and with Bikram gone until June 9th, a glimmer of hope that we’d get home at a reasonable hour. It turned out to be a talk by Liz, our PA, about proper hydration and the differences between the choices for electrolytes. She put up a chart of ingredients and dispelled the Pedialyte myth (it’s NOT a good electrolyte replacer) and really pushed Gatorade. As that is a chemical factory, I was happy to see how very favorably coconut juice stacked up. Another interesting piece of info is that the electrolytes get into your system in about 15 minutes. After that, Manali got up and had us all sit in meditation as she sang a lengthy and beautiful chant. She has a gorgeous voice so it was such a nice way to end a very, very tough week. And we were let out at 11:00 pm! I am very, very glad to have Week Seven behind me. Early class tomorrow but then we’re free! Enjoy your Saturday.
06-05-2010 Day 50
Day 50! And only two weeks, 14 days, 336 hours and 20,160 minutes (well, now, that wasn’t very helpful, was it…). Hot class this morning but not murderously hot as it has been. We had another TWSTP (Teacher With Something To Prove) this morning, so a bit of lecturing and yelling: “I didn’t tell you to drink your water yet! Put it DOWN!”. This, after the Physician’s Assistant last night in the lecture told us she brings in a gallon of water plus electrolytes into her classes and drinks whenever she feels she needs it regardless of what the teacher says, and if we don’t, we’re stupid. Mixed message much? Anyway, it’s a lot easier to take when you know that when it’s over you are done for the day.
Spa day today, so we stopped in for a jacuzzi and a shower with the nice-smelling stuff. Then brunch as usual, where we could enjoy the food and relax for a while. Back up to the room to work on real life stuff and talk to the family for a while. Tonight was our Group Dinner and we all went to a Thai restaurant which turned out to be the same one Adrienne and I ate at on our first weekend here. So, after seven weeks in Vegas, I have eaten at exactly one restaurant outside of the hotel – now that’s livin’. It was a lovely evening of all gals – one of our guys had previous plans and the other has friends visiting. We had a lot of fun – everyone has a back story for coming to Training and many are fascinating. At our table were several moms, a former hedge fund manager, an accountant to movie productions, a technology company owner, an Opera singer, a dental hygenist, a student and a massage therapist. One of the gals had her four-year-old son and father visiting so it was nice to have a family feel at the table. Service was horrendous (three hour dinner!) but the food was fantastic. Most of us old ones began to fade about 9:00 pm, but many of the younger ones were going to the mall afterwards for a Lululemon fashion show. I couldn’t think of anything I would not want to do more than go to a mall for any reason at that point.
Time for a brief product review. The products I am very impressed with after the serious road testing I have done with them are:
1) Harajuku. If I could re-pack for this trip, I would only take my Harajuku stuff. It is by far the most comfortable, it washes out in minutes and dries in an hour.
2) Modskin and Coconut Oil. Everyone, I mean everyone, here is complaining about alligator-dry skin, cracking heels and facial blemishes. I have seen no difference in my skin, it’s not at all dry and I’ve had no break-outs. I am religious about using the Modskin (Daily Re-Vital Cleanser, Face Sculpt Serum Excaliber, IDZyne Gel, Creme Nutrifunctional #1 and Chilean Lip Panache). Even cooler: I haven’t come close to going all the way through one jar/container of each in all the time I’ve been here. I faithfully put on Coconut Oil after every shower and before I go to bed.
3) Ultima Electrolytes. A life saver with no chemicals, and I’m getting used to the taste. I’m not a real fan of any of that type of thing except for coconut juice, but these are a very affordable and natural alternative.
4) Pure Bars. Delicious, full of good stuff for you, high in protein, organic, vegan and raw. I have one about two hours before the 5:00 class and I think the extra boost is keeping me upright.
5) Kulae Mat. Most everyone is ready to heave their mat off the roof of the hotel as they smell so frighteningly. Mine never smells of anything and I am embarassed to admit I only clean it on weekends.
Hope this helps! It is Blessed No Alarm Clock Night and that bed is calling my name in a big, huge way. Good night!
06-06-2010 Day 51
It’s a quiet Sunday, today. Went to our usual brunch, then up in the room all day to work on mortgage stuff. Nice to see some activity picking up back in the real world! Had to fit in some studying as well, as I know we’ll be getting to the remaining four (only four!) postures this week. I figure no matter how bad I do, I am not likely to fail at this point, but I still need to know them for when the real teaching begins!
There is a heat advisory in Las Vegas today as it is 107 – 108 outside. Dr. P said they measure that in the shade on the grass, so the real temperature where most of us are in pavement land is probably another 10 degrees above that, easily. Our Sunday study session by the pool this evening was cut short as even at 8:00 at night, it was too hot to be outside!
An old friend asked me today how I could get through this training. Basically, you just do. I might start with the “I want to go home!”s but the fact is, I can’t. So you just stop yourself from going there as soon as it starts. Same with crying in class (a very popular pastime for most of us) – crying makes it harder to breathe and it’s already damn hard enough to breathe so you just stop. I do all the postures because I’m afraid that if I sit one out, I’ll find that I can sit out another. And another. That would lead to laying them out. And then you get to where you can’t make yourself get up and do them because you’ve convinced yourself that it’s OK to give up. It’s just not OK to give up, as failure is just not an option. I agreed to take this on and I need to finish it. Although there are many, many days when I wonder what twist or turn in my otherwise relatively normal life lead me down this crazy path.
This is the whole Group, us tall people in the back. Front row, left to right: Jill from Canada, Judit from Finland, Ruby from Canada. Second row: A friend of Marina’s, Marina from Moscow, Haley from NM, Annie from Canada. Third row: Melissa from IL, Michele from Canada, Ekaterina from Russia, me, Michelle, an American Ex-Pat living in Paris, Fenlon from MI, Suzanne from Germany and Jan from Australia. Our guys, Larry from MA and Ken from NV were otherwise occupied.
This is the whole Group in the Posture Clinic room before David left. he’s the one kneeling in the left center. Ken is the guy in the upper right and Larry is kneeling on the right. the others I didn’t list in teh dinner picture are Deb in the fron row, from AZ, Hye from Korea in the second row, left side, Meg from WI, Liz from NJ and Gabby from Canada in the back row.
Here we are in the tent practicing for our yearbook photo.
Well – off to bed for the second to last week! Yahoo!!
06-07-2010 Day 52
Hot, hot, hot class this morning, but I have altered my wake up times so I can get down to the tent earlier and beat the traffic. Much as I hate to get up any earlier, this is pure survival, man! We did get a decent spot, although in 125 – 130 degrees, decent is a very relative word. At one point, once we hit the floor, we looked at each other and said, almost simultaneously, “They are heating the (expletive deleted) floor!” Like it wasn’t stinking hot enough? The best part was my other mat neighbor who brought contraband ice in with her and very kindly shared it with me, and I shared it with Adrienne. We have found that if you run a piece along the inside of your wrists, you can feel cooler (don’t really care if that’s actually true or just in my head). As it is so precious, after savasana, so we don’t waste any of it, we have also found (and I apologize in advance to any men reading this) that placing the rest of it in the top of your ‘costume’ as they are known in these parts, is also very effective for a quick cool down. Whatever it takes!
The teacher was from corporate so, as you know, that means zero dialogue. She was very unapologetic about it, as well, and her class was very good. In another of our favorite episodes of “Who Do You Believe Next?”, she told us to drink water constantly, throughout the class, She said whoever told us not to was crazy and we’d end up with kidney stones if we didn’t keep drinking. Now wasn’t it just Friday night…OK, so today we drink. I survived intact and did all the postures without falling down. Lowering the bar is a good thing in these times.
Very fast and mechanical brunch while reciting dialogue. Back to the room to return mortgage calls and emails and study. Posture Clinic was in the Lecture Tent for the first time for me. The only other time my Group was there, I was in the ER and missed it. It is SO much better with real chairs to sit on, lots of room to spread out, a stage and – yes – a microphone! At least I wouldn’t have to worry about my volume and projection. And it’s a little less scary when you don’t have 40 bodies packed in tight sitting all around you. We had one of the traveling teachers and Ben, our beloved sound man. They were helpful and kind, a very good combination. I did Camel and it was OK, not great but not embarassing. One more done and only three to go!
The wind picked up very nicely for the 5:00 class so, although very hot, they were not able to give us heat exhaustion this evening. I also snuck my mat into the tent after Posture Clinic and reserved some good spots for us. Dom, one of the lead teachers here at Training, taught class, after a very interesting fashion show put on by all the teachers. They modeled Bikram’s clothing line to the tune “I’m Too Sexy” which drew quite a bit of applause. He was good, and used a lot of dialogue which is helpful when you’re trying to continue to memorize postures while in class. He was very happy that we all stayed in the room (he told us it was time to “put on our big girl pants”). Thing is, if you don’t roast us, we’re more likely to stay in the room. I don’t know that they have made that correlation yet but we’ve got another two weeks to see if they work it out. We also got to hear Episode Two of “Who Do You Believe Next” as Dom did not want us drinking water except at certain allowed times. You can get whiplash around here if you’re not careful.
Another Posture Clinic tonight, so Adrienne and I went over Rabbit a zillion times during the dinner break. Then, back to the lecture tent for me. Dom was our lead teacher along with the corporate gal from the morning. They decided it would be more fun to call out the names of who had to go next rather than the usual way of us going up when we were ready. At first I thought that would be easier, but then realized that it was even more tension-packed. Instead of just starting to get nervous when you decided to go up, you got to be at high alert and maximum stress the whole time waiting for your name to be called. Lovely. I did get called, finally towards the end and actually did my best posture to date. Given that the next posture, Head to Knee with Stretching, is a full page of dialogue to memorize and deliver, everyone is freaking out about having to potentially give it tomorrow. I was glad to have Rabbit behind me so I can focus on only the new one.
Back to the room at 11:45 so an early night! Here’s hoping this wind keeps up and continues to save us from an untimely turning into a puddle on the floor of the Big Top.
06-08-2010 Day 53
They turned up the heat for the morning class, both in the air and the floor. The misters were working overtime as well so we were dripping. Ben the Soundman was our teacher and he is so well loved here it was an awesome class. He is probably the kindest and most honestly nice person we have here. He taught a great class, with right-on dialogue and lots of enthusiasm and encouragement.
Posture Clinic today was a trial as the two gals we had were the cheerleader-plus-dialogue types – in other words, they want all the words, plus major league energy and lots of theatrics. This is the type of panel that makes me try to become invisible and hope I don’t have to go up. They make people like me do all kinds of great stuff to try to make us more like them. Poor Hye had to say a part of the dialogue 5 times before they let her go, and they still weren’t satisfied with her performance. They had some great feedback for some of the people, but I decided to roll the dice on the next panel being more accepting of other flavors of teaching styles. During the Clinic, several people were called out of the room, and were told it was something to do with the Yearbook. We found out later it was a meeting for all of the folks who are struggling with either memorization, delivery, or just plain getting in too much trouble. They offered help to those struggling, and said that Bikram would be the one who might be meeting with them and deciding what would happen with their Certificates. There were about 25 people in the meeting so many are struggling.
The 5:00 class was much more tolerable in the heat department as the wind had kicked up again. Man, do we love it when we step outside for the walk to class and feel the wind whipping – it’s like instant salvation. We had a senior teacher who was very entertaining, although she was a charter member of the “Don’t Move/Drink/Twitch/Breathe Until I Tell You To” club. It was also very moving as she was very close to the senior teacher, Jason, who recently passed, and she told us a lot about him.
We lucked out with a lecture this evening, so a brief reprieve from the blistering pace of the final few Posture Clinics. Lynn Whitfield, a Senior Teacher, spoke to us about becoming teachers, from the employment standpoint. She had a lot of good advice on how the Trainees can present themselves well and how to be employable. I’m hoping that, if I play my cards right, I will be deemed to be employable by my Studio Owner, but he’s a tough nut to crack. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what my fate will be.
The best news is that I only have two more postures to deliver and I’m FREE of this stress!!! Then all I have to do is survive 18 more classes and 8 potential late nighters and I will be DONE. Blessedly, magically and wonderfully done. I will try to stay ‘in the moment’ but it’s getting harder to keep from thinking about finally going home. Good night!
06-09-2010 Day 54
We are over the hump on the second to last week! That alone makes for a great day. Class this morning was really great – hot but not killer, and we had a senior teacher from Houston. His voice and manner were completely meditative and he was 100% dialogue and perfect timing. It’s such a wonderful thing to relax and just be able to practice, instead of fighting off heat exhaustion and teachers trying to show how long they can hold you in Triangle for fun. What a gift, it really makes you appreciate a good, simple class.
Posture Clinic was with another senior teacher from New Mexico who is a riot and a half. She is just hysterical, and had everyone rolling with her stories of her own training and her various students and classes. I had my best delivery to date with the LONG Head to Knee with Stretching Posture. It’s nice to have a few good ones under my belt going into the final – yes, the FINAL – posture! It’s great to see so many people who previously struggled coming into their own. Just the sheer joy on people’s faces when they finish and know it was good is so uplifting. And we can all smell the end coming soon so the joy is real and the anticipation of completion is palpable in these cramped little rooms.
The 5:00 class was with Bikram, he’s back from his travels. There was a rumor running that ESPN would be filming this evening’s class but when I didn’t see a van or even a car with a logo, I figured the rumor mills had it wrong (surprise). It was a long and hot class but not too hot to practice. Nice to get in two real classes in one day! He was classic Bikram, calling people out and complaining about chicken, um, poop people not doing the postures right. There is the Naughty People Club now with assigned mat spaces directly in front of him (folks who have strayed too many times from one or more of the thousands of rules we are to follow, mostly sleeping through class or blowing off Posture Clinics). He now has a captive pick-on group so he has quite a lot of fun with them. He did the Human Tug Of War with one poor gal who was dogging it in Balancing Stick. He had one of the bigger guys pull her foot and another pull her hands. Ouch.
Back to my room to memorize Spine Twisting Posture – it’s actually Tongue Twisting Posture, holy crap. I have the words down, so now it’s just a matter of walking around saying it constantly until the next beloved Posture Clinic rolls around, yee haw.
Good thing I wrote most of this at the dinner break. Bikram Lecture tonight (I have absolutely no idea about what) from 10:00 to midnight, then a Bollywood bonanza. It’s 3:15 am and I just got in. Five hours in those chairs have my lower back and sciatic nerve just singing a happy tune. Couldn’t get a good snooze on with all the happy tunes, so tomorrow should be very interesting. The wind was blowing hard all night, it actually had the lovely port-a-potties sliding across the parking lot. We walked out into an incredible wind storm, it was literally blowing people off the path. It just picks your feet right up off the ground. At least all this joy is coming to an end very soon!
06-10-2010 Day 55
(Bummer of a Server Issue – Late Post – Sorry!) A very sunny and bleary-eyed morning after only several hours’ sleep. I can’t believe I used to WANT to stay up late – is that like the definition of being grown up? When you actually choose sleep over pretty much anything else that’s going on around you? Well, then, I’m old. Very old. In fact, I would choose sleep over chocolate at this point. Another lovely, meditative class this morning in a sweltering but reasonable temperature. Our teacher was an American Ex-Pat who owns a studio in Argentina with his wife. He had a lovely soft voice and promised us a 90-minute class. That is a beautifully wrapped Christmas present around these parts, something I will never take for granted again. I have adjusted my wake up routine back 15 minutes so that I get to the tent early to get a good mat spot. Adrienne is always early so we then practiced the Final Spinal as it is now being called. We had it down well and then they announced a lecture for the mid-day so we actually strolled to brunch and not only chewed but tasted our food.
The lecture was by Rajashree, who has also returned for the end of training. She spoke about the specifics of each posture, with the almost freakishly bendable Brandi demonstrating, and their medical benefits as well. This was a topic we have all been waiting for but we were a little surprised that the focus was more on getting through each one than in answering questions or discussing them for any amount of time. It was hard to focus as, although I was very interested in hearing all of it, I was absolutely fighting a losing battle with my eyelids. Then, the best thing – I got called up for mail and received the best kind of card from the very awesome Eliza Childs – the kind that you can sit and read over and over and it has lots of good stuff it there and it makes you laugh. Even the envelope was done in all kinds of colors with yoga dialogue references. Of course, I’m sitting in the lecture tent with tears rolling down my cheeks, but it was so beautiful, thank you so very much, Eliza! It meant so much and I so appreciate you taking the time to write and send it.
The 5:00 class was with Bikram and following him into the room were a camera and sound guy from ESPN. Sometimes, rumors have legs around here. They stayed through Triangle. He was definitely up for a show tonight so they certainly got an earful of true, pure, unadulterated Bikram. I can’t wait to see the piece! If anyone is an ESPN fan, please let me know if you see it listed anywhere. Long and tough class but, again, not too hot to actually do the postures for real. One of my floormates was talking about an adjustment that she received from our Awesome Anatomy guy, Dr. Preddy, after class one day. I spotted him in the lot after class and asked him if that were possible. He was more than happy to help. After I described to him what was going on, he said I just gave a textbook description of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Basically, the way I’m built (a little skewed, no surprise there) and my not-so-great posture has my shoulder muscles collapsing on some nerves. The worst thing I can do is hold my arms over my head for any extended period of time (can anyone say Half Moon Pose? Balancing Stick?). He did some crazy adjustments and manipulations and the sense of feeling came back down my right arm. It’s sore a hell but I can feel the healing starting. How awesome is that! He said lots of Advil for a bunch of days but it should be better. Way, way cool.
And then – Posture Clinic! They threatened a lecture afterwards so I packed loaded for bear. When we got to the room and the teachers came in, however, they said we were there to finish and it would be the last one! So lots of cheering, lots of nice comments from our two teachers – Ilke (sp?) and the teacher from Argentina. They found some good in everyone’s delivery and it was an evening of pictures and celebrating. Lots of tears, too, as people sensed the end drawing near. I have to say that sadness is not something that comes to my mind when I think of the end. Call me crazy. My delivery was fine, nothing special but just getting all those twisted (literally) words out for the Final Spinal was my goal, and goal accomplished. We got back to the rooms about midnight. Let’s see what they do with us for the rest of our time here! Almost the end of Week EIGHT! I can feel it, I really can.
06-11, 06-12 & 06-13-2010 Days 56, 57, 58
I am going to make a sweep of a post for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I’m sure most of you by now know why!
Friday morning class was with Rajashree, relatively cold class and uneventful. By Friday morning, all of our bodies are pretty tired and I find I have trouble holding postures if the teachers decide to keep us there for hours. Rajashree is famous for holding us in the backbends, which is always a good time. I thought that, by now, I would have this amazingly strong, lean, muscley body but, alas, that is not the case. I am by far stronger, and I think when I have some rest, my practice will show that. Pretty much 95% of people have gained weight – I”m probably up a few pounds (not of muscle) and a lot of people have gained a lot of weight. I think it’s due mostly to stress and sitting round. We learned in Anatomy that when your adrenals are working overtime all the time, your body hangs onto fat to protect itself. And none of us came from a sedentary lifestyle so we’re not used to the hours and hours in chairs and on floors. I’m sure everything will come right within a week of my return to a normal schedule and a normal life.
Our afternoon lecture began with Rajashree and the remainder of the postures, which we rushed through. Then, a Dr. Choudry spoke, who I think is Bikram’s uncle. He is also head of the OBGYN Department of UCLA Medical Center. He spoke about women’s issues and how yoga assists with everything from PMS to Menopause to easier births. He is also very funny and liked to tell jokes. This came in very handy as Bikram was expected to come and speak to us and Dr. Choudry had to do the s-t-r-e-t-c-h for quite a while in filling time. The afternoon lecture is supposed to end at 4:00 so we can rush back to the rooms, change and return by 5:00 for class. Well, it got to be 4:30 and finally, Manali said we would have class at 6:00 tonight. This was quite a let-down to some as there was a rumor flying that the private pool party the hotel posted was to be ours. Not to be! They held us until a little before 5:00, then the big mass exodus of 350 yogis trying to get down the narrow path and crammed into elevators to rush and change and get back to the tent for the all-consuming sign-in.
We were all clapped into the tent at the usual 5-Minutes To Class. This is a new word we have turned into a verb as whenever they want to move all of us somewhere, all the staff begins to clap. It’s gotten to the point where if someone mistakenly claps for any other reason, we all turn immediately quiet and look around like prairie dogs to figure out what we’re expected to do. I find this to be very, very funny in a twisted kind of way. So, we have been clapped in and we sit and wait. We’re used to waiting for Bikram but there was no orange towels on the chair (Bikram’s signature) so we didn’t think he was teaching. Then, the staff rushed up to the podium and began to put out the orange – the towels, the tablecloth, the cup and the bowl, as well as water. OK, looks like a change of plans. Then we waited, and waited, and waited.
At about 6:30, I saw the reflection of someone walking along the back of the room in jeans, which, of course, is not a usual sight in the tent. I turned to look and could not believe my eyes. It was Richard! I leapt off my mat and towel, ran across the room and flung myself at him like one of those escaped plastic bags against your windshield on the highway. Think Officer & A Gentleman with less clothes, and I wasn’t actually saved from my training but I’m going for the feeling here. He had told me, completely understandably, that he wasn’t going to be able to make it out here. And our little Lisa – did anyone know she was an actress? Skills abound in that woman, let me tell you! I called at my usual lunch break and she said she “thought” Richard had to go to a board meeting. I called during dinner and was told she “thought” he had to run for errands and had left his phone in the office. Very good job! I didn’t suspect a thing. Richard decided to take class and went to change. I set his mat up in the back where the teachers practice. When he returned, Adrienne cam over to meet him and several of my buds and fellow Group members came by as well to see who it was that I was physically attached to. Richard got to say hello to Kathleen and Jen as well. Bikram finally came in at about 7:00 pm. As he arrived, Richard went over to say hello and Bikram made the “muscle man” pose at him. Bikram’s only explanation was that the staff had told him to come at 7:00. OK. After class, I got to walk back to the hotel with Richard and show him off to many more friends and fellow trainees.
We had been told to report back to the lecture tent at 11:00 pm. Surprisingly, Richard chose to stay in the room and sleep (especially since it was 2:00 am in his body’s time zone). I very reluctantly packed and left, even seriously considering skipping the “lecture” and taking the make-up class – can you believe it? Bikram spoke for a couple of minutes and put in the Mahatmahatma 96-Hour Oddysey Of We Don’t Know What. Everyone assumed their typical movie positions: under chairs, across chairs, hiding outside, sleeping against neck pillows, whatever. This time, however, Bikram hollered at everyone to get off the floor, sit in their chairs and pay attention. Then the staff came around with flashlights and loudly woke anyone they found sleeping. Now, this movie would be hard to pay attention to in the middle of the morning with seven shots of espresso so, let me assure you that staying awake in it after midnight is somewhat of a challenge. Luckily, we irritated Bikram with our lack of attention and he kicked us all out. He said he would be staying up and the more conscientious of or group could stay but the rest of us had to leave. Adrienne and I flew out of there like we’d been launched from a sling shot.
Saturday morning came too early and Richard decided to skip class and sleep in. He promised to meet me after class so I could introduce him to more folks (he loves doing this, as I’m sure you are aware). I came out of class and heard some drums and other percussion music and found him sitting under the awning with a bunch of other guys playing music. The Spanish gals danced and more people joined in playing the various instruments that had been set out on a table. Very cool!
We decided to rest up and then hit the Strip to really see Vegas. I plotted out a route through and around some of the more interesting hotels and sights. It is a trip, that’s for sure. We cabbed up to the opposite end, then walked back. We saw the lions at the MGM Grand, an incredible and fanciful Botanical Garden at Bellagio, as well as the stunning dancing fountains and lights. We then made our way down to the Mirage to see the Volcano fire and water display and eat at BB King’s restaurant to hear some live Blues. I had fried pickles which greatly amused Adrienne and Richard but they were GOOD. We were then going to take a gondola ride down a canal at the Venetian but we were too beat and walked the rest of the way home. In all, it’s about 5-6 miles from end to end so it was a long, fun hike. The lights, sights and sounds are almost overwhelming and people are everywhere.
Today, Sunday, we rented a car and drove up to Red Rock Canyon. It is huge and stunning in a stark and geological way but I miss green. I was also looking for the wild horses but they must have been hiding. We then drove the opposite direction to see the Hoover Dam. Once we got close, however, the traffic was so massive that it would have taken hours to fight our way through. Being pretty beat from our night and morning of sight seeing, we decided to head home. Got to grocery shop for our final week, then back to our hotel home. We are going to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity tonight atNY NY so I will let you know how that is! What a weekend! I promise to post pictures soon. I still can’t believe I have my guy here with me! What an incredible, awesome and wonderful thing.
06-14-2010 Day 59
The Cirque du Soleil Zumanity show last night was great – very entertaining, although more burlesque than acrobatic. It was held in the New York New York Casino, which was very cool – the food court was a re-creation of aNew York street, with restaurants and shops and bars along a cobblestone walkway. These huge casinos and hotels re so creative and massive!
And then comes Monday morning, and I had to say good bye to Richard and send him back to you. It was so incredible to have him here and feel normal again, and so very hard to see him go. I know it’s only a week left but that didn’t help this morning. It was, however, fun all day to hear from my friends and fellow trainees how handsome he is (which I am pretty well aware of, mind you)! Back to the routine – class at 8:30 was with a gal from Houston. Although, at first, her voice grated on us like the proverbial nails on a chalkboard (oh, so lovely on a Monday morning) she seemed to warm up quickly and settle in. Her dialogue was 100% on the money, so it was a great class after all. The heat was pretty good, and I was pretty moveable for a Monday morning.
Afternoon lecture was with Bikram, who arrived in a silver sequined shorts and tee outfit – quite stunning. He began to discuss the postures, one at a time, in great detail as to the hows and whys. This is really what we’ve been waiting for, and he didn’t disappoint in the details department. He also had several people come up who were really good at the posture, and some who couldn’t do it so he could “help” them into it. When I saw his first “help”, I quickly put any intention of going up there deep in the closet. He actually stood on one gal, and bent another very inflexible guy double. I have to assume he knew by looking at them what they were capable of, but I am not taking that chance – if he did to me half of what he did to them, I would be permanently bent in odd directions. We got through only the first three postures in 3 and ½ hours so this is going to be a process!
The 5:00 class was hot and drippy. We lucked out with some spots under the misters as I happened to be right there when someone else moved. You have to be quick to get these coveted pole positions, let me tell you! It was so nice to be able to do all the postures in some good heat. Bikram was a bit late so he pretty much went through the class in an almost normal fashion. They announced sign-in for the evening lecture at 9:00.
Back up to the room to clean up, work on mortgage stuff and pack for the long haul just in case. I am very tired today and dragging out to the tent, again, was a tough walk to make. Bikram’s orange chair was set up in lecture mode so we settled in and waited through the pre-show announcements and the stretch. They released some of the details for graduation, which will start at 3:00 pm on Saturday and go until it’s done, it sounds like. With 350 people to be called, brought on stage and have their picture taken with Bikram, plus demonstrations, a buffet (obviously the best part) and other festivities, it sounds like I better have my bags packed long in advance. Bikram’s arrival this time revealed a pink sequined outfit, again quite a fashion statement. Diane Duchcarme is back, much to everyone’s joy, and she stayed on stage with him to help translate questions people ask (yes, this is quite a necessity). We got through 2 postures between 10:00 and 12:30 pm. He gave us a break and , once we returned, said that for the first time, he felt sorry for us. He said he had some friends there with whom he wanted to watch Bollywood movies and we could stay if we’d like but we could also go home! Yippee!
Some quotes from today:
“Yoga you don’t do. Yoga you try.” Bikram
“If standing leg hurt, chop it off with the chopper. Unless dead, keep killing them.” Bikram
“Common sense is that sense which is not at all common.” Bikram’s Guru
“For graduation, guys dress like the hounds. Girls try to dress to be indifferent.” Manali
“No more Mondays left! And here comes our last Tuesday. I think I’m gonna make it!” Laurie
06-15-2010 Day 60
T-4 and counting! Morning class was with one of the world champs who seemed to have lost her passion for the practice. It was so monotone and bland, the elevator talk on the way back to the room was about who fell asleep in savasana and for how long. Many woke up with that “Oh, no, what posture are we in and how many did I miss?!” freak out. As we discuss all the time, however, each teacher we have shows us something that we want to emulate, or something that we don’t want to include in our own teaching style, so they are all a good learning experience.
Bikram decided to hold the afternoon lecture early today, so we had only an hour in which to shower, eat, change and report for sign in. He began where he had left off the night before in discussing the postures in detail. He always requests the worst representative for each posture and it’s so funny how the whole room will call out the same name for that particular pose. Bikram does some mad adjusting to their bodies and they get into some crazy poses. One guy was very comical as he crawled haltingly off the stage after one of Bikram’s ‘adjustments’. I did learn quite a lot, and a few things you might find interesting:
1) The right side of the posture is the Ha (of Hatha Yoga) side, which is the Sun God salute. The left side is the Moon side, or Tha. We always salute the Sun before the Moon, so we always start with the right side.
2) Ever wonder why we pick up the left hand first in each set of Toe Stand? Because we need the strong Ha, or right, side to hold us up.
3) Floor Bow is the most beneficial medically and one of the hardest postures to do correctly.
4) Full Locust is the most psychologically challenging because you never feel like you are going up high enough.
Just a few tidbits gleaned from our four and one-half hour odyssey this afternoon, better known as “How Many Tricks Can You Employ to Stay Awake Or At Least Look Like You Are Awake As You Sleep?”. They let us out at 4:25 and gave us an extra 15 minutes to get up to the rooms and come flying back for the 5:00 class.
No orange on the chair so we knew it wasn’t Bikram for our evening’s leader of the festivities. We found out quickly enough – it was a studio owner from Germany who is of Indian descent. It was very weird as he sounded exactly like Bikram with a slight German accent – same intonation, same inflection, same voice modulation and pitch. Very strange. He did try to push us and it was very hot in there tonight, but either I’ve beaten the black-outs or it’s not as hot as it was those evil few weeks. We got only an hour and a few for dinner break, so a scramble to shower and eat again, then return once more for who knows what. Adrienne’s husband and son arrived from New Zealand and they came down for a few minutes so I was able to meet them – both of them just gorgeous and very nice. It takes about 30 hours to get here from there so they were understandably a little road-weary.
We had a nice surprise when Craig Villani got up to speak. He is one of the senior teachers who ran Teacher Training for a long time. He is so very, very well spoken and knowledgeable and, above all, hysterically funny. He spoke about his start in Bikram and how he ended up as a teacher. He also gave us tips about our first class and techniques to employ while teaching. About 11:30, he stopped and Bikram came down and asked him to continue speaking for a while. He called up all of the staff members to each give their story about how they came to Bikram. Some were very interesting: one guy was in the military and found yoga while on a combat ship, another gal came to corporate from Dublin only to find her soon-to-be husband who was working there, another was inspired to teach by an incredible teacher she practiced under in Vancouver. Our favorite sound guy, Ben, said he was just on a flight, got up to use the restroom and noticed people sleeping, and felt compelled to wake them all up. He also said he never goes anywhere without batteries in his pocket (for the headsets that keep going out). They are all here unpaid and on their own time, and their hours are oftentimes worse than ours. We all wondered what the stretch was for this time, as it was getting later and the rumors were running that it was to be our all-nighter. I bought some water as I was running out, broke out the snacks and settled in for whatever might befall us. Bikram finally returned and they allowed us a break for a few minutes. Adrienne and I ‘walked the compound’ as we call it, stretching our legs until the last minute of being clapped in. Bikram then spoke to us for a few minutes about how it doesn’t matter how we started, it’s all in how we end. He was referring to the many instances of blatant rule-breaking going on, especially in the No Touchy-Touchy, No Kissy-Kissy department, as Manali caught a couple kissing behind the generator. I’m so glad I’m a grown up. He then put on a Bollywood movie at about 1:00 am. I assumed the position – neck pillow on, blanket supporting my back, contacts off and glasses on, stretching out to find foot space. Bikram said to enjoy the movie and he had to go spend time with friends who just arrived. Adrienne then noticed that people were filing out the back door. We watched for a bit to see what was going on and it turned out that the staff was dismissing us by row. You just never know what you’ll get these days! I had literally not 5 minutes to do a thing besides run from place to place today. Not good for business!
I will leave you with a few good quotes from Craig:
“Your focus determines your reality.”
“Compassion is sitting in stillness while others spin their wheels.”
“Standing in stillness between postures in the standing series is the cornerstone of a real practice.”
“In Rabbit Posture, if your ass is as big as mine, your ass will literally eat your heels and you won’t be able to find them to grab.”
The last Tuesday! Until tomorrow!
06-16-2010 Day 61
It’s Wednesday! Only today, tomorrow and the next day and we’re done! We had a good class with Juan this morning, a traveling teacher and former World Champ. He can teach in many languages including Spanish, French, German and Hebrew. He had a lovely accent, a nice low voice and a very dry sense of humor, all wonderful qualities for a morning class. One weird thing – everyone seems to be puffing up with what we think is a reaction to the lessening of the stress factor and our bodies retaining more water. I grabbed my ankle this morning in Standing Bow and thought I caught someone else’s by mistake – it didn’t feel anything like my own ankle! Well, actually it did – when I was pregnant.
The announcement was made to come back to the tent by 11:30 in comfortable clothes to watch a demonstration of an Advanced Series class. I joined Adrienne, her husband and son for a quick brunch as, just like yesterday, our break times seem to be contracting. It was so nice to have a family around, even if it’s someone else’s! I hurried back to the room where I had multiple calls and emails to return in no time at all. I threw on a yoga tank top and capris and bolted back to the tent, where I very quickly regretted my wardrobe decision. The tent was absolutely roasting and we were all seated close together on the floor in a square around the demonstration area. This immediately triggered a massive and stunning hot flash (I hope to have these back under control with herbs in a few days) so I beat the class members in a dripping contest. I sure as heck wasn’t in the same league in any other way! The Advanced Series is comprised of 84 postures done in quick succession. About a dozen of the senior teachers, staff members and others joined in, including Bikram and Emmy who just returned. Emmy, at 84 +/- years old, not only did the whole series with them, she lead the class and narrated it! Incredible. Bikram, let’s say, struggled a bit with the postures. There are some crazy bendable people around here, holy crap! You can see some of them on Esak’s website if you are interested.
At the end, they announced that we were to be back in the lecture tent in 45 minutes. This is just enough time to rush back to the room for the next wardrobe change and to re-pack for the lecture and the 5:00 class. This means packing the regular lecture gear of water, a snack, notebook and reasonable attire along with my mat, yoga wear, electrolytes and more water for class. As I rushed to the elevator, I banged into one of the signs in the middle of the walkway, bouncing off it like a cartoon. No big damage done and no ER trips so not to worry!
Bikram resumed his in-depth discussion of the postures although it’s a bit slow-moving as he tends to wander off the postures for peripheral discussions that can last up to 30 minutes. We did get through many of them, and we were let loose for class only ½ hour late. We were given a half-hour to get ready for class so I took the opportunity to go re-stock the water supply.
Class was excellent with Craig teaching. His manner is so calm, yet assertive and in control, it’s nice to surrender to a class. He promised us a 90 minute class and no crazy stuff, and asked us to trust him to lead us through. He was so very funny as well, and I hope many of the other teachers were in class to listen to how he handled the room. He never raised his voice, never cajoled or belittled, and everyone stayed in the room and pretty much all stayed in the postures as well. We were worried that it would be scorching as it was unbearable when we walked in but we noticed that it seemed to cool down when class started. Not sure if we have Mother Nature, the Wind Gods or the staff allowing us to live to see graduation to thank for that.
Back to the lecture tent for the evening. Manali was alone in the s-t-r-e-t-c-h as we were there for 9:00 pm sign in and it was well after 10:00 pm when Bikram arrived. She asked a question of the crowd: did we enjoy training? And then the can-of-worms-opening question: who did not enjoy training. Several brave souls raised their hands and she asked each one to state why. They were each very respectful and said they were disappointed in the lack of information given, and also felt the late nights were counter-productive to the learning process. She asked for their names, so we’ll see what becomes of them! My own thoughts are that this was not something to enjoy or not enjoy. It’s a process I have to go through to get to where I want to be – a means to an end, simple as that. I, unlike many others, was well warned as to exactly what goes on at training, and was under no illusions that it would be fun, or easy, or necessarily enjoyable.
Manali spoke of her own training, how she was requested by family to leave her career in journalism to come and help her uncle run the Teacher Trainings. She also had to cook for Bikram every day, in addition to all of the other things we trainees have to do, with no break for her efforts. So, I am thankful that I did not have to cook for anyone while I was here.
Bikram spoke tonight about the brain and the mind but, once again, the late night and the circuitous route by which he arrives at some of his conclusions had us nodding and struggling to stay awake. Adrienne and I entertained ourselves with lists of questions: favorite book, favorite movie, earliest childhood memory, stupidest thing you did in high school, most terrible thing you did to a sibling, favorite year, you get the drift. It was actually quite fun so the time passed pretty easily for a while. We also had quite a number of dissenters in our midst and their running commentary was absolutely hysterical at times. One Bikramism I must share was his tirade about obesity in America. He has two solutions:
1) Give free food to everyone but if you gain one pound you have to go to jail.
2) Send all the obese people to a jungle in Africa because they will make good food for all of the elephants and buffalos (yes, those were the vicious carnivores he mentioned).
He did have a lot of very nice things to say to us about our journey and what we have accomplished and what we are now qualified to go out and do. And he let us go at 12:45 am so we were very, very happy to miss movie night again!
Only one more Thursday and one more Friday to go – woo hoo!
06-17-2010 Day 62
Ah, I had forgotten the joys of a morning class with Emmy! She is the amazing disappearing and reappearing woman. She is relatively short (in stature only) and can easily hide between students, only to mysteriously appear right in front of you! It’s eerie but it definitely keeps you on your toes. They’ve gotten the room to be pretty consistently hot without trying to kill us lately, so a good class again. I was very, very tight and sore, however, after literally ten hours stationary in the lecture chairs and on the floor yesterday. That is not particularly helpful for sciatic nerves and lower backs.
We had afternoon lecture with Craig, as Bikram is back in LA and took his son to the Lakers/Celtics game tonight. He said that for the last 37 years, the Lakers have won whenever he went to their game. I guess his magic still works! Craig went over both teaching skills and posture specifics. He is very knowledgeable and easy to listen to and I have many Craig pearls for you:
1. We need to have mindfulness in our transitions between postures. It matters how you go into and come out of a posture. Stillness between postures is an all-important step in decompressing your body and allowing a safe and beneficial transition to the next posture.
2. Our yoga practice is an active recognition of patterns, and it takes discipline to recognize and transform these patterns.
3. This really works – before you lift your arms over your head for any of the postures, stretch your fingers down with your palms out a little, then draw the biggest arc you can with your fingers until they meet over your head. This decompresses the shoulder and even mine hurts less. Same in Awkward, but stretch down before you lift your arms up. Keep the stretch going the whole way. It’s a lot easier to keep them up if you start this way.
4. There should be another posture for when everyone comes up to do the first set of Fixed Firm, and they drink water before starting. He says it should be called Aquasana.
5. There is absolutely no research supporting the fact that flexible people are happier people, but it is absolutely true that they are infinitely more annoying.
6. Initiate all of your transitions into postures at exactly the same time, providing energy to the class. It may take each of us a different amount of time to get into the posture, but start at the same time.
7. Postures should never feel good. It should only feel good when you are done.
8. There is an actual term called “Yoga Schizophrenia” – you hate a posture now and six months later you love it.
9. There is a specific Hindi Logarithm. When Bikram says 27,000, it really means 16. If something sounds crazy to you, you are just not appropriately applying the logarithm.
10. A beautiful Craig quote: “You’re not a crazy yoga poodle jumping through a flaming hoop of asana.”
The 5:00 class was with Craig, so another good class, good heat and lots of sore body parts. He told us that our missing hamstrings would be found after we returned to normal so I am hopeful that mine will come back as well. Lower back is still so immobile after all the chair time it is a bit frustrating. We did have a good laugh before class as we have a Mysterious Mat Mover in our midst. We regularly put our towels or mats down to claim our spots, go outside for some air before class and then come back in the tent a few minutes later only to find our mats either shifted over a few spots or moved completely. This, of course, is heresy, treason, and blatantly against all unspoken Yogic culture. We all know who she is, too – a 60 year old medical doctor from Hungary who insists on practicing in one particularly prime spot directly under the misters. Today, there was a revolt of the under-represented and unappreciated and we all moved our mats back to where they originally were and moved hers back a row when she left the tent for a minute. And then we all sat on our mats like nothing happened. Very silly, but it’s been a very long eight and 2/3 weeks!
Evening lecture was with Mr. Craig once again. He read out everyone’s name for graduation to get the pronunciation correct, which took a while. Then he spoke about the details of graduation, which sounds like some kind of affair! Formal attire, ‘distinguished guests’, demonstrations of the postures (they didn’t ask me, funny), lots of pomp and ceremony. I cannot wait. I’m sure I’ll get misty at some point (they keep telling us we’ll be so sad) but right now I am revving up for the return to my family and my former self-directed life. I feel like one of those cartoon characters with my feet spinning under me so fast you can’t see them, dust billowing behind me,
Richard got a shout out from Craig, not by name but by reputation – Craig was talking about holding postures longer than required to give students a chance to really get into them. He mentioned that the World Record Holder for Awkward was set in Hawaii and still sits at 3 minutes, 33 seconds, which no one could believe. Adrienne knew who it was and told everyone it was my guy, so I got to beam a little extra brightly for a few minutes.
Craig then spoke about Pranayama which breaks down to mean Pran, which is unmanifested energy, and Yama, which is the act of manifesting. So it literally means bringing energy into the body. He also went over Kapalabhati Breathing and the importance of the releasing of toxins after the class. I thought he was going to go on for another couple of hours but we got lucky and were released from the compound just before midnight.
ONE MORE DAY! There have been many times I thought I’d never live to say those words.
06-18-2010 Day 63
The last day! The last day! The last day! I’m still alive so I have, therefore, met my own personal goal. I cannot believe I am done but for the final ceremony tomorrow. Awesome, amazing and the biggest sense of relief I have ever felt wash through my being, like a long, cleansing rain after an unbearably hot, humid day. I’m sure other feelings will soon manifest but right now, pure and utter relief is by far the most overwhelming and overriding of all.
The day began with our last class with Rajashree, a quiet one. There was a palpable sense of energy coursing through the room so it was probably a good thing that she was on the docket or the place may have exploded like a shaken bottle of soda. Lots of pictures and tears out in the parking lot, and we even had a little drama for everyone to talk about – seems someone’s boyfriend arrived last night, saw a suggestive text come over the girlfriend Trainee’s phone and broke the unfortunate texting Trainee’s nose when he was later introduced. Given what we see go on around this little yoga microcosm of a world, I’m relatively surprised that’s the only altercation we’ve heard about. We do, however, have another day to unfold.
Had brunch with my adopted Kiwi family and then back to the room to prepare for the final lecture. We did not have any idea what to expect, as usual, why question The Process We Are Supposed To Trust at this late date? It turned out to be Craig, Rajashree and Emmy on stage to answer whatever questions we might have about anything. There were a few about the speakers that had been promised but who could not come for whatever reason – one about the business aspect of things (opening a studio, the new franchise, financing) and the other about Chakras. They did not have any financial information for us and Emmy gave us a two-minute primer on Chakras and the name of a good book. The session then turned into a very moving live testimonial forum, where several people stood and gave their incredible stories of how they arrived at Teacher Training. One gentleman became a male prostitute as a teenager after his very religious family disowned him, was a drug abuser and generally had thrown himself away when he walked by Bikram’s studio in LA. He found there a home and a family who accepted him for the first time without judgment and he turned his life around. He got his GED, finished college and is now a registered nurse. An older gentleman from Holland was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and was so covered by skin lesions he was scheduled to have his leg amputated. He was in a wheel chair for years when the cocktail of drugs was finally released and they began to work for him somewhat. A friend told him about Bikram and all of a sudden he kept hearing about it everywhere. After his first class, he was able to stand on his feet without pain for the first time, and after the second he went home and danced. He is now this very buff, very serious and hardworking Trainee who will make an incredible, understanding and motivating teacher. There were several other very moving stories and many people stood up to say thank you to the group for their love and support. It was a very nice way to wrap up the last week and we were even let out early to get ready for the 5:00 class with Bikram.
There had been quite a lot intimated about The Last Class so we were really looking foreword to it. I got down to the tent area early and was astounded by the sheer number of people – it was wall to wall of every age, shape, color and size. Adrienne, of course, was already there and had saved us our usual mat spots. Her husband was also taking class to get a first-hand Bikram experience. I could not believe the number of mats already in the room. There are 5 rows at the back reserved for visiting teachers and guests that usually have 10-20 people occupying them. They were filled. The staff clapped us in and people started filing in to the tent in massive numbers. Every single spot was filled. There had to be over 500 people in there and the atmosphere was absolutely jubilant. Bikram performed his usual entrance from the back and the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. He was at his very most Bikram, and very entertaining. There really isn’t a G-Rated version of Bikram and tonight was no exception. There is something magical about that number of people all moving in synchronization, it is very hard to wrap words around. There is a power, a grace, an energy you can almost touch. I probably had my very best class since I’ve been here. As I knew I did not have another class on the agenda, I ignored the pains and pulls and hurts and sores and just did every posture the very best I could, without fear of further injury to have to practice with in the morning. It was awesome.
As we finished the final breathing, the place erupted. Hoots, hollers, whistles, floor-pounding and massive applause resounded as we all realized the whole thing finally, amazingly, thankfully and blessedly had come to an end. Bikram put on one of his more danceable tunes and everyone leapt up and was jumping around, crying, hugging, back-slapping, chest thumping, high-fiving, screaming, dancing, you name it. Every form of celebration you can possibly imagine was displayed, times five hundred. As we finished our congratulations, we filtered out into the lot area and the drummers and dancers were back, providing a wonderful festive exit. Adrienne and her husband went to get food and I just hung around and spent time in the middle of the swirling, celebrating crowd, meeting up with and congratulating all the many people I’ve come to know here as the swirls of people undulated around, back and forth and through. I just wanted to stand there for a bit and take it all in, the end of this crazy, crazy journey in which I have been so encased and immersed for so very long.
We were to report to the ballroom for sign in at 8:30 pm for the Talent Show and Bikram’s meditation lecture/demonstration. We were told to dress decently, so everyone showed up looking good and feeling great. Bikram didn’t feel that the time and mood was right for his meditation piece so the show began. It was emceed by one of the very well-spoken Trainees and another one doing color in full drag. The talent was varied and fantastic and outrageous. There were several gifted guitar players and folk singers, a fiddler, and our friend the Irishman did interpretive dance. We have not one but two professional opera singers in our midst and they did a meltingly, hauntingly beautiful duet that is still playing in my head as I write this. And the finale was a Bollywood song and dance number that was perfectly spoofed, choreographed, danced and acted by a bunch of folks. It ran really late and then the announcement – the only time to get our yearbooks was now. So we all went to the tables to stand in line. Luckily it went relatively quickly and the book came out really great.
I am looking forward to the graduation tomorrow! It starts at 3:00 and sign in, yes, sign in, is at 2:45. The only other thing on the agenda is to pack myself up which will definitely take the rest of the day. I leave at 1:00 am for H O M E. Less than 24 hours away.
06-19-2010 The Finale!
It is 11:30 pm my time and I am sitting in the airport waiting for my red-eye to Minneapolis, where I have a four hour layover. I will arrive in Bradley at 2:00 pm. I cannot believe, first, that I actually got everything packed up and transported those hugely oversized suitcases to the airport and checked in. That was a feat and a half! I did have to leave behind my hot-pot and my soft blue lecture night throw. I hope the maids can find a good home for them as they have served me very well. The hotel sent up this poor little gal as bell person and she couldn’t lift the suitcases onto the cart, but we got it done with a little teamwork. The cabbie struggled as well and left me on the curb with the two mongo bags and my two carry-ons. I celebrated my arrival and success in getting everything here with a Carvel sundae – it is one of the only things open here at this hour but that sure didn’t bother me.
I spent the morning organizing and packing, then getting ready for our big final ceremony. It felt very weird not to be scheduled every minute, and also not to be going to class. I did get a great night’s sleep, however, which is always such a wonderful thing. At 2:30 I went down to the indescribably huge ballroom where our names were on our seats, relatively alphabetically. Lots of family and kids were running around and everyone was dressed in their finest. The most incredible thing was that the event started exactly at 3:00! It being Las Vegas, how could we begin with anyone other than Elvis? He was actually a very good imitator, and sang three or four of the most famous hits. Bikram then made his grand entrance on the arms of two beautiful show girls in full feather regalia. He strolled around with them for a while, then took his seat in the front. One of the senior teachers, Jim, began the formal part of the program with an ancient taped message from Bikram’s guru, Bishnu Gosh, about the benefits of yoga. There was then a demonstration of the 26 postures by 30 of the very best yogis in our class. They did one side of one set of each posture in a beautifully choreographed, flowingly synchronous movement. They were all beautiful and bendy and it was stunning to watch. Several of the demonstrators did the advanced forms of the postures so the display of Gumbyness was even more impressive. Next up were the awards – Best Yogi, Best Yogini, the ‘Flower Petal Blooming’ award (something like Most Improved we think) and our Valedictorian. We are not sure where the awards came from, how they were awarded and what the criteria were but it really didn’t matter. They were some of our own and we celebrated with them. Then came the thank you’s – to all the teachers, the staff, Rajashree, Emmy and, of course, Bikram. As usual, as soon as they said Diane Ducharme’s name, the place exploded in applause and whoops, triple that of anyone else. Craig was the Emcee so it was well done and nice to listen to. After he announced Diane’s name, he waited for the applause to die down a minute and then said, “Did I say Diane Ducharme?” and the place went crazy again. She really is such a wonderful person, role model, mentor and friend to so many. They even brought up our favorite Dr. P to give out the Anatomy Award. Bikram then spoke, and included some of his more famous Bikramisms and Bikramosophies for all to enjoy.
Then, finally, they lined us up by row to receive our certificates. They did this very well, with lines on both sides of the stage, taking one from either side in order. Rajashree gave Bikram the Certificate, the Trainee walked across, kissed Bikram’s cheek, then he and the now Teacher turned and smiled at the camera for the famous, official and final Bikram Photo. It got to be my turn and I performed the appropriate manouevers as dictated. Bikram kissed my cheek, said “Congratulations, then held one corner of the certificate and said, through his teeth, “Hold it.” I did as told and smiled for the camera. It was over. I was done, I am official! Lots of hugs and tears on the way back to our seats with our Group members. I waited for Adrienne to get her certificate and then went back to the room to continue my packing odyssey. Her husband, Chris, called me a while later to say dinner was starting and I should eat before I go. Not one to pass up a free meal, I hopped back downstairs for the huge buffet. Adrienne and I agreed that, as Las Vegas Hilton Buffet Officionados, we had seen most of this food before. But it was good, and the desserts were even better. I didn’t want to stay too long as my packing was calling me and I really did not want to turn into a puddle saying goodbye to the many, many people I have come to know here. Thankfully, I will see Adrienne in a week when she comes to visit Connecticut, so it was not too terribly awful to say “See you in a week.” It really is, though. We have spent most of every waking moment in this outrageous journey together and it’s very difficult to imagine not having her only a few floors below me.
Final reflections? As I said in a previous post, I did not come here expecting a vacation, or to look for a reasonable and orderly process. I was not disappointed in that sense. It was, however, incredibly wonderful to find such a huge number of such very good people from all over the globe. I met so many people with so many interesting stories. The sheer number of people I saw every day, everywhere, for so long was like nothing else I will probably experience again. The intensity of the physical and mental demands were something I was very afraid of at the beginning of the journey, and it wasn’t until after the mid-point that I was honestly sure I wouldn’t break down in some way at some point. It was the physical aspect that gave me more trepidation, as it seemed that every few days I would pull or hurt or strain something else. Every time the teacher would say “Arms over the head!” I would just cringe and brace for the incoming, knowing there would be no break, no rest, no help found until the next Saturday afternoon off. The endless hours in the lecture chairs and the endless lectures and threats of very late nights watching Bollywood movies seemingly without reason, and never knowing what was coming next paled in comparison.
What I found was that I could do more than I thought I could, put up with more than I thought I had the patience or stomach for, As someone used to being in control and being in charge, surrendering to a process that might not make any apparent sense was an exercise in itself, but I was able to surrender with a lot less chafing at the bit than I thought. There were very few times when I ‘lost it’ and all of those were, thankfully, private. I could not imagine doing this without the support at home that I received. I not only have my incredible Richard, which alone could get me through pretty much anything, but his having lived through the same experience was priceless, invaluable and oftentimes sanity-saving. I didn’t have to explain why I was tired, or frustrated, or hurting, or beyond a livable point of stress. He had been there and knew what I was feeling and always, always, knew exactly what to say to talk me down from whatever ledge I was about to leap from. His showing up in the yoga tent as a total and complete surprise will always be one of my very, very favorite memories and favorite stories to tell. And it sure doesn’t hurt that he ain’t hard to look at.
Richard asked me what advice I would give to anyone interested in taking on this journey themselves. I have a few thoughts (surprise):
1) It is absolutely worth it. Regardless of what one might think of the man, the process or the technique, this yoga works. It works miracles of all kinds for all kinds of people, and I know this first hand. Being able to teach it and be part of the healing would be worth going through whatever it takes.
2) Make sure you have support at home. Whether it’s your spouse, partner or significant other, friends, kids, and family, they need to be behind you 100%. Dissent from home is high-test fuel to an “I shouldn’t be here” bonfire, and you don’t need any help with that one.
3) Be in good shape when you come. Your body needs to be strong and ready for not only the tough physical conditioning but the long hours of sitting.
4) Learn the dialogue before you come. Everyone says this and very few do it. Everyone who learned it well before they got here had a much, much, much easier journey. Rather than learning the words, they could work on technique. When we were studying and memorizing, they could sleep, or travel, or develop their delivery.
5) Eat well, eat often, and don’t stray too far from your normal diet and intake. The sitting around for hours counters the additional workout time. A good 90% of people here gained weight.
6) Keep an open mind. Don’t deliberate on expectations or anticipate anything. You will find that assuming or guessing is frustrating and futile. Your thoughts about a process that might not make any sense to you whatsoever are irrelevant. Be prepared to do as you are told by people who you may or may not like or respect. Whatever you think about “the process” will not in any way affect how “the process” is delivered.
7) Find someone (or several someones) immediately of like mind and a positive outlook on things and hang around with them. Stay away from the drama queens and kings (as fun and tempting as they might seem), the nay-sayers and the trouble makers. It’s hard enough without supporting someone else emotionally, or spending precious energy on making things worse than they are. The complainers here had a very hard time.
8) Be proud of yourself and celebrate each and every victory, no matter how small. Help others celebrate theirs as well. The sense of community you feel here with people from every far corner of the world is like none other.
9) Richard sent me these wonderful cards every week. The two that I read every day, and the best pieces of advice were: “It will all be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.” and “Be gentle with yourself for you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace within your soul.”
And so, this is the end, at least of this part of the journey! I am so very thankful to all of you. Your support, your care and concern, your emails and letters and words of encouragement sent via Richard were all held very close to my heart and helped so very much on the down days. I consider myself one of the very luckiest of people to have such a supportive community of incredibly wonderful souls to count as my family and friends. Thank you for joining me on this journey! And here’s to the next chapter.
(Pictures to come!)
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